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Switch to digital workflow causing back pain among radiologists

Working at computer stations might not appear to put physical demands on workers in North Carolina, but conditions called “computer back” or “mouse shoulder” arise from long hours on a computer. Among radiologists, 32 percent of practice managers reported that their staff members had lower back pain when surveyed by the American College of Radiology. Members of the profession suspect that the transition from a film to a digital work environment has increased hours spent on computers.

Although digital radiology improves efficiency, data storage and billing, it reduces the time that radiologists spend interacting with people. They now sit at computer work stations for long hours without breaks, and they sometimes lack ergonomic equipment. Inappropriate chairs that position people awkwardly lead to musculoskeletal injuries associated with prolonged computer use, like neck pain, back pain and repetitive stress injuries.

Growing awareness of the problem within the profession could promote changes that reduce injuries. Ergonomic work stations may reduce injuries and lessen burnout among workers confronted by uncomfortable working conditions.

Musculoskeletal injuries that creep up on workers might impair their ability to perform and require treatment. A person with this form of workplace injury may decide to seek benefits through the employer’s workers compensation insurance. Because an employer might dispute a condition not attributed to a specific accident, a person might want legal assistance. An attorney may be able to provide advice about how to report the injury and arrange for the worker to get an independent medical evaluation to prove the condition. To prepare the insurance claim, an attorney may organize the evidence and file paperwork within deadlines. Resistance from an employer or insurance company might cause an attorney to recommend a lawsuit when a worker needs an injury recognized and treatment paid for.

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