Nurses, physicians' assistants and other medical professionals who work in hospitals or at clinics devote their lives to caring for others. Many of these jobs require multiple years of schooling, as well as a dedication to working longer-than-average shifts, often 12 hours at a time, on top of rotating holidays. Still, medical workers continue to do everything in their power to ensure the well-being of the people entrusted to their care.
Sadly, it is quite common for medical workers to end up hurt as part of their job. In fact, when looking at the risk for injury, hospital staff have higher levels of risk than manufacturing workers or even those who work in construction. Out of every 10,000 full-time employees, 157.5 end up hurt each year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. That number is only 147.4 for construction workers and 111.8 for manufacturing workers.
Why are the risks to health care workers so high?
You would think with exposure to heights and machinery, that both construction and manufacturing would pose a greater risk to worker health. However, the human element adds a lot of risk to the job for those who work in hospitals.
Roughly 9 percent of reported injuries to hospital workers are the result of violence. Patients who have psychiatric issues or dementia can attack a health care worker, not realizing that person only wants to help. Overexertion and bodily reaction, many times due to lifting or carrying a patient, causes a staggering 48 percent of injuries to hospital workers.
Patients are heavier than they used to be
The average American weighs more than they did decades ago. However, medical staff can't just refuse treatment and assistance to those who weigh more than they do. Nurses and other staff often have to help a patient who slips and falls or move a body onto a gurney or other machinery. The strain of lifting and moving a patient can do serious damage to the muscles, connective tissue and joints of staff.
Patient handling is a very dangerous aspect of medical care, resulting in injuries such as herniated discs, strains, sprains and other serious and painful conditions. When a medical worker ends up hurt, he or she will likely not be able to resume working until the injury has fully healed.
Medical workers deserve workers' compensation for job-related injuries
Thankfully, like all people who work for a living in New Jersey, medical staff have the option of filing a workers' compensation claim after an injury while working. If you hurt yourself while caring for a patient, don't try to tough it out. You should report the injury to your supervisor as soon as possible.
After seeking care and a diagnosis, you should also file a workers' compensation claim. Waiting too long to report, file a claim or seek treatment can impact your ability to receive the compensation and care you need to return to work.