In New Jersey and across the United States, health care workers are an integral part of the workforce. Often, their contribution is relatively unsung. Since early 2020, however, they have gained a newfound appreciation for the vital part they play in society. Now, a growing challenge is said to be getting worse: patients and their family members getting physically violent and causing injuries to those who are doing their jobs and trying to provide care. Health care workers who are confronted by this should be aware of their rights if they are hurt severely enough to miss time on the job.
Health care workers being attacked
Patients being treated in hospitals or health care facilities are understandably fearful as to what will happen. This is also true for their family members. Still, before the current circumstances, health care workers were rarely fearful of being injured by angry patients and their families. Now, it has become frequent and is getting so serious that some hospitals are giving their staff panic buttons if they feel threatened. Security is being ramped up.
In Missouri, up to 400 workers will be given these panic buttons due to a tripling of the number of assaults that have occurred. In 2019, there were 40. In 2020, there were 123. It is not yet known how many there have been in 2021. Idaho has hired more security for health care facilities due to misinformation people think is true and combative people converging. Other states taking steps include Texas and Colorado. This is ongoing across the nation. Various forms of abuse – physical and verbal – have been reported. Some have fought with staff as they did not want the current treatment protocol and sought alternative methods of care.
Health care workers who are injured should be cognizant of their options
Health care workers are always vulnerable to a litany of injuries. Moving patients can cause back problems; they are using sharp objects leaving them susceptible to cuts; they might slip and fall on a wet surface; infections are a risk; and now there is the spike in patient violence. There was always a chance that a patient could become aggressive when receiving care or upset family members might lose control. That has become exponentially worse. Health care workers who suffer injuries due to violence or for any other reason should know about workers’ compensation benefits. It can provide for medical care and wage loss. It is imperative to understand how to maximize those benefits.
Professional assistance can be key with getting workers’ compensation
Regardless of how a health care worker suffered the injuries, there can be a dispute as to the severity, how long the worker is expected to be off the job and even if it is significant enough to warrant workers’ compensation benefits at all. Some injuries are less clear to the eye than others. This is especially true with back injuries. Whether it is a doctor, a nurse, a nurse’s aide, lab workers or others in the health care field, having advice on how to pursue workers’ compensation benefits can be crucial. Consulting with those experienced in health care worker injuries is a useful first step.