When you think about workplace injuries, you probably imagine them occurring in industries such as construction or manufacturing. If you hear about an injury in a nursing home, you might assume it is the nursing home patient who sustained the injury at the hands of a staff member.
It might come as a surprise to know that nursing homes are one of the most dangerous places for workers. After all, working with elderly individuals does not sound that dangerous.
However, staff members of nursing homes and personal care facilities have some of the highest rates of workplace injuries. Some of these injuries come from exposure to dangerous substances, heavy lifting or repetitive motions, but some come from nursing home residents.
What statistics show about workplace violence in nursing homes
Violence in nursing homes from other residents is more common than you may believe. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”), between 2002 to 2013 incidents of workplace violence were four times more common in the healthcare industry than in the private sector.
Nursing home residents that are suffering from mental illness or experiencing side affects from prescribed medications can lash out at their caregivers or they may simply be upset and angry and take it out on the caregiver. The violence against nursing home staff can be verbal abuse, physical aggression or sexual assault.
Sometimes the violence comes from a family member or friend of the resident who is upset over a situation. If they are angry about how they believe their loved one is being treated at the nursing home, they can express it by acting abusive or hostile toward staff.
Physical attacks can come in the form of punches, kicks, bites, slaps or pushes. These can lead to several types of serious injuries, including bruises, cuts, scratches or broken bones.
Why nursing home workers may not report injuries
The healthcare profession has some unique cultural aspects that mean workplace violence might be underreported. Since many healthcare workers naturally believe that they have an ethical duty to not harm patients, they may believe that they must put up with violent or aggressive behavior as part of their job.
Additionally, healthcare workers can develop close, personal relationships with their patients. When the patient acts out and becomes aggressive or abusive, the worker could be hesitant to report the behavior, especially if they believe it is caused by something outside the patient’s control, such as medication side effects.
Sometimes workers become so used to the behavior that they start to consider it normal and routine. It is vital to recognize that workplace violence is never acceptable, particularly when it leads to an injury.
You have the same rights as every other worker
Nursing home employers can try to prevent or reduce workplace violence to their staff through proper training. Staff are often overworked and stressed, leaving them unable to properly handle violent or aggressive residents. However, even adequately trained staff can sustain a workplace injury from a combative patient.
When you suffer an injury due to an aggressive or violent nursing home patient, it is important to know that you have legal rights. As with any injured New Jersey worker, you can file a workers’ compensation claim after suffering an injury by a violent patient.
Workers’ compensation benefits provide you with the compensation you need to treat your injuries, covering your medical expenses and other costs while you recover.