When we think about work-related injuries, most of us may not regard the health care industry as being the type of work that is highly susceptible to hazards and injuries. However, recent studies have shown that when it comes to serious and debilitating injuries, health care workers are as much at risk, if not more compared to many others like firefighters who have a job that many perceive to be high risk. There is no question that registered nurses, certified nursing assistants and other health care workers have physically demanding and dangerous jobs.
Dangerous conditions in hospitals, nursing homes or assisted living facilities can result in serious injuries and even lead to permanent disabilities. At ODG LAW GROUP, we understand the challenges that health care workers face today. We are here to serve as your workers’ comp attorneys and can help you secure the compensation you need to help you recover and provide for your family. We’ve represented injured clients around Southern California and will be happy to help you every step of the way when filing a workers’ comp claim. Call us at (818) 230-2428 to find out how we can help you.
Understanding Injuries Sustained By Health Care Workers
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), health care is the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy, employing more than 18 million workers. Women represent nearly 80 percent of the U.S. health care work force. Health care workers face a number of dangers on the job including sharps injuries, toxic exposure, fires, back injuries, latex allergies, stress and even workplace violence. The CDC has found that cases of nonfatal occupational injury illness with healthcare workers are amongst the highest of any industry sector.
Causes of Health Care Worker Injuries
Here are some of the main causes of injuries in the healthcare field:
· Patient handling: A number of workers suffer serious injuries when they attempt to manually lift patients who need to be moved from one location to another or bed-ridden patients who have to be repositioned. With an increase in obese or morbidly obese patients, injuries relating to patient handling have also risen exponentially.
· Repetitive stress: According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), health care workers are more than seven times as likely to suffer orthopedic injuries compared to other workers. In fact, nursing aides, attendants and orderlies are at the highest risk of suffering these types of injuries due to the repetitive nature of their job.
· Sharp injuries: Health care workers are routinely required to handle needles and other sharp medical instruments that may cause cuts or puncture wounds.
· Workplace violence: OSHA also reports that health care workers face a heightened risk of being assaulted on the job. Hospital workers may be in danger because they may be caring for violent criminals or the mentally ill.
· Slip-and-fall accidents: When liquids are spilled on the floor of a hospital or a nursing home, it poses a serious slip-and-fall hazard, particularly for health care workers who are walking around.
· Understaffing: This is a chronic problem in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and even hospitals. This may increase the risk of many types of injuries because of the increased stress level and the pressure to work faster and tend to more patients with less assistance and help.
Types of Injuries Sustained
Some of the most frequent injuries suffered in a hospital and nursing home setting include:
Bone fractures: Broken bone injuries often occur as the result of slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accidents and incidents of workplace violence. A bone fracture may also occur when a health care worker is transferring patients.
Head injuries: Health care workers face the risk of suffering traumatic brain injuries including concussions due to falls and violent assaults by patients.
Neck and back injuries: The physically demanding nature of these jobs when lifting, pulling and tending to patients also heighten the risk of debilitating neck and back injuries that may leave individuals with chronic pain and disabilities.
Sprains and strains: OSHA reports that these are the most commonly reported injuries among health care workers. The neck, back and shoulders tend to be the body parts most commonly injured due to sprains and strains.
Herniated disk: A herniated or slipped disk is when the protective pads between the bones of the spine may bulge, split or rupture. This may put pressure on the spinal cord causing symptoms such as pain, numbness or weakness around the damaged disk.
Infectious diseases: Handling bodily fluids and coming into contact with infected patients while dressing or treating them significantly increases the risk of spreading diseases including serious diseases such as HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis B.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Health care workers who have been injured on the job can seek workers’ compensation benefits. Under California law, workers are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits regardless of whose fault the injury was. The employee does not have to prove negligence by the employer or anyone else in order to recover benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits pay for all medical expenses that arise from the work-related injury.
If you miss workdays while recovering from your injuries, you can also obtain a portion of your wages that have been lost. If your injury results in a temporary or permanent disability, you may receive benefits, monetary support and help for vocational retraining. When a worker passes away as a result of their work injury, his or her family members can seek death benefits, which is paid through workers’ compensation insurance to surviving dependents.
How We Can Help You
f you or a loved one has suffered an injury on the job while working in a health care setting, the experienced California workers’ comp attorneys at ODG LAW GROUP can help you better understand your legal rights and options. We will help evaluate your case. We will assist you in filing a workers’ compensation claim in a timely manner. We can also help resolve any disputes with regard to your benefits eligibility or coverage of medical treatments. We will fight for your rights if your employer pressures you to return to work when you have not fully recovered.
We will gather, organize and present evidence that shows you are entitled to receive benefits. We also help negotiate fair settlements on behalf of injured clients or their families, and represent you during a workers’ compensation hearing. If your claim is denied, we also handle appeals. Our workers’ comp attorney will strive to protect your rights every step of the way. Call us at 818-230-2428 for a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.