Healthcare workers are instrumental in caring for others in need, but what happens when they get injured? Nurses and other healthcare employees spent countless hours on their feet each day, which takes its toll, and they are frequently exposed to dangerous diseases and illnesses. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, healthcare workers suffer the highest number of non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses than those in any other industry.
Some of the most common injuries and illnesses healthcare workers suffer include:
- Sprains and Strains: These are the most common type of injury among healthcare workers, according to OSHA. Typically, nurses and healthcare employees experience sprains and strains in the shoulders and lower back.
- Spinal Injuries: Slipped discs occur when the tissue that cushions the vertebrae slips out of place, creating a painful injury that is difficult to heal. While other spinal injuries can occur, slipped discs are the most common in the healthcare field.
- Broken Bones: While minor breaks, fractures, are most common, full breaks may also occur, and are usually the result of workplace violence.
- Head Injuries: Injuries to the head are also typically caused by workplace violence, or slip and fall incidents. Head injuries may take the form of a concussion, or may be more serious.
- Blood-borne Infectious diseases: HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are just a few examples of blood-borne illnesses that may occur because of accidental needle sticks.
- Infections: Working with the sick and injured certainly has its downsides, not the least of which is exposure to mucus, bodily waste, and airborne pathogens that can cause infections.
To those working in the health field, these injuries are typically caused by very specific incidents. There is no doubt working with the sick and injured can lead to a stressful work environment, which means nurses and healthcare workers are no strangers to stress. OSHA reports healthcare employees are 7 times more likely to develop musculoskeletal disorders, which are often caused by overexertion. This is even more likely in understaffed medical facilities, when hospital, nursing home, or clinic workers are expected to work faster or take on more duties than normal.
Work injuries in the healthcare field may also be caused by workplace violence. When patients are disgruntled, or the family and friends of patients get angry, they may direct their anger towards the healthcare professional. Nurses and other workers may also have difficulty with patient handling, such as transferring patients to different positions or moving them to and from, which can result in muscle strains or sprains. Slip and fall injuries are also common, as are accidental needle sticks.
If you were injured at work, it is important that you understand your legal right to compensation. When injured on the job, you may be entitled to compensation and certain benefits from your employer.
To learn more about workers’ compensation, contact Harbison & Kavanagh to discuss your case with our Richmond lawyers.