Sometimes those who care and provide support for others become patients themselves.
Hospital work can be brutal on the body. Nurses, doctors, hospital staff, and emergency medical technicians are hardworking people subject to long shifts and constant exposure to high-stress situations, dangerous chemicals, and violent patients.
All of these hazards can build up, leading to high rates of burnout and physical ailments.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nursing aides, orderlies, attendants, and paramedics have some of the highest rates of musculoskeletal disorders — injuries and illness that affect the body’s muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs. Such disorders include sprains and strains, hernias, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Health care workers are nearly twice as likely to report work-related injuries or illnesses compared to workers in the private sector. Sometimes in their drive to provide patients with the best care possible, they often neglect or put their own health and safety at risk.
If you’re a nurse, doctor, or hospital staffer who suffered an injury or became ill while working in the healthcare system, you don’t have to stay silent. Our Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers at Gary Martin Hays & Associates can protect your rights and get you the full financial compensation you deserve.
Work Hazards for Healthcare Providers
Medical staff face dangerous conditions every day they are at the hospital. Physical and psychological hazards are commonplace, from needle pricks and violent encounters with delirious patients to patient death and witnessing bodily trauma.
Working in a hospital also means there is a higher risk of coming into contact with toxic materials such as cleaning supplies, surgical laser equipment, bodily fluids, etc. Understaffing is also a pervasive issue that many hospitals across the country face, especially with the rise of COVID-19. This means professionals in the medical field have to work longer hours, increasing their risk of exposure to dangerous situations.
According to the CDC, nursing assistants experienced the highest traumatic injury rate among all healthcare personnel. Traumatic injuries most often occurred due to slips, trips, and falls; handling and moving patients, and workplace violence.
Common Accidents and Injuries in Hospitals
Nurses and other health care workers perform many different jobs during a given shift, so there are various ways they can become injured. Some of the most prevalent injuries suffered by health care professionals include:
- Back injuries
- Cuts and punctures
- Illnesses and infections
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Slips, trips, and falls
In a hospital environment surrounded by sick patients, health care workers are constantly exposed to contagious diseases and viruses. Sharp instruments and tools are everywhere, some of them contaminated by blood and pathogens.
The majority of nurses who are injured on the job work in hospitals. The next most at-risk groups include nurses who provide ambulance services and those who work in nursing homes and residential care facilities.
Hospital staff, especially nurses and paramedics, are more likely to suffer a back injury, shoulder injury, or muscle strain. They are often involved in lifting, transferring, and repositioning patients, many of whom have mobility issues, have fallen unconscious, or are overweight.
Lifting heavy patients and pushing stretchers can be particularly damaging. The injury can happen all at once or flare up over time while working multiple hospital shifts in a row.
Musculoskeletal disorders for health care workers include torn rotator cuff, knee sprain, torn meniscus, joint dislocation, SLAP tears, tendonitis, herniated and bulging discs, sciatica, and a host of other painful injuries.
Georgia Workers’ Compensation for Nurses
Nurses and other health care workers can file for workers’ compensation in Georgia.
The law states that hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other medical facilities must carry workers’ compensation insurance for their employees. The only thing the injured staff member must prove is that their injury or illness occurred on the job and is debilitating enough to require medical care and days off of work to recuperate.
If you are wondering if you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation, here are the basic criteria:
- Your injury or illness is job-related. If you haven’t yet, report your injury to your employer and include as much detail as possible. Any delay in reporting your injuries could complicate your claim for workers’ compensation benefits. If your claim is denied or you are told you don’t qualify, contact a workers’ compensation attorney for legal assistance.
- You are an employee at the company you work for. In general, only employees are eligible to receive workers’ compensation. If you are an independent contractor, you may have the right to file a claim outside of workers’ comp.
- You file your claim within the appropriate deadline. In Georgia, most work injuries must be reported within 30 days of the accident or the employee becoming aware of their injuries. There are exceptions — again, the best thing you can do is hire a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer to protect your legal rights.
If someone in the medical field suffers a work-related injury or illness, it’s important to file the correct documents to move the workers’ compensation claim forward. Georgia’s workers’ compensation system allows injured workers to receive up to two-thirds of their average weekly income and covers necessary medical and rehabilitative care.
In some cases, a nurse or health care worker’s injuries or illness are so severe that they cannot continue working. If this is the case, they may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
Learn more about how the workers’ compensation system works in Georgia by viewing our helpful guide.
We Fight for Georgia Healthcare Workers
Nurses, physicians, caregivers, and hospital staff deserve to be cared for if an on-the-job accident occurs.
If you or a loved one are injured while working at Grady, Emory, Northside, Piedmont, NGHS, Wellstar, or another hospital or medical facility in the Atlanta area, talk to one of our experienced and highly qualified work accident lawyers today.
Contact us at (770) 934-8000 for a free, no-obligation consultation to find out if you have a workers’ compensation case.