Nurse awarded compensation for lifting injury

A nurse who injured her back whilst treating an overweight patient has won her claim for compensation in the High Court.

The nurse was attending the patient, who weighed more than 20 stone, in his own home in order to change the dressings on ulcers on the soles of his feet. To do so, she had to lift the man’s legs as he was unable to do so himself. As she did this, she experienced a sudden sharp pain in her lower back.

Since that time, the nurse has suffered from chronic back pain and, two and a half years after the accident, was forced to give up her job. She can now only drive short distances on account of the pain and is still not able to take her dog for a walk.

Despite numerous complaints to the Surrey Primary Care Trust about the difficulties she was experiencing in treating the overweight man, these were ignored.

When the case was heard in the High Court, the judge found that the Trust was at fault for ignoring the complaints made. In the Court’s view, the problems could easily have been overcome by having two nurses attend the man or by providing him with an inflatable cushion on which to rest his leg.

A total of £107,246  was awarded in damages for injury and for loss of earnings.

Whilst the risk of injury to nurses and care workers when lifting patients is well known, the ‘obesity epidemic’ has exacerbated the problem. Employers have a duty to ensure workers are not exposed to a risk of injury wherever they work.

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