WHAT RIGHTS DO NURSES HAVE WHEN COPING WITH CHRONIC PAIN?
Updated: Nov 3, 2022
As a nurse, it is your job to help patients. You communicate with the doctor, administer treatments and monitor their progress. When you have a patient with severe and chronic pain, you may advocate for them so that they can connect with the relief they need.
You may not treat yourself with the same degree of compassion, however. Nurses are at high risk of developing chronic pain. Overexertion and bodily reaction to long shifts and heavy lifting responsibilities are common in the nursing industry. This can lead to severe pain that affects your work.
Nearly two-thirds of nurses (65%) who have ongoing pain report that the pain is centralized in their upper body and back, while 34% have issues with lower extremities. Many nurses will try to push through that pain and continue caring for patients. You may be wondering: What rights do you have when dealing with chronic pain?
THE RIGHT TO ADEQUATE MEDICAL CARE
As a nurse, you likely have health insurance through your employer. You may also qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if your injuries are a result of your job responsibilities. Regardless of who pays for your medical treatment, access to pain management resources like opioid medication could make all the difference for you.
You have the right to undergo whatever treatment is necessary for your recovery. However, you will need to communicate with your employer if you intend to use those medications at work. After all, they could affect the standard of care that you provide.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO WORKPLACE ACCOMMODATIONS
Even if your chronic pain is not a direct result of your job duties, you can still ask your employer to help you continue working. Reasonable accommodations such as altered responsibilities and assistive technology might reduce the level of pain that you experience at work.
YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO FAIR TREATMENT IF THE PAIN AFFECTS YOUR JOB PERFORMANCE
Both chronic pain and pain medication can impact how you do your job, how quickly you make a decision and your memory. You may find that either the pain itself or the pain management might affect your ability to do your work.
Those who face accusations of subpar work performance and disciplinary measures, such as hearings with the state licensing board, can defend their right to work in the medical field. Understanding your rights as a hard-working nurse with chronic pain can help you continue the career you love.