Nurses are the backbone of our health care industry. Unfortunately, nurses’ backs are taking the brunt of the workload. And many nurses either aren’t taking workers’ compensation for the injuries or are being denied their benefits.
One study found that nurses, assistants and orderlies suffer back injuries at three times the rate of construction workers and at a level even with firefighters. The main culprit is lifting patients.
In addition to lifting patients – some of whom are quite heavy and often without the mechanical support offered to factory workers – nurses face a panoply of other dangers, including:
Needle sticks – Millions of nurses are stuck with used needles which can lead to infection or disease.
Violent patients – Either for physical or mental reasons, many patients lash out at the first person near them. Often that person is a nurse.
Exposure to toxic chemicals – Chemotherapy and radiation treatments, cleaning supplies, smoke from laser treatments can all create injury or illness.
Slips and falls – Physical injuries are not created only by lifting patients. Hospital floors can be a likely place to find a variety of fluids.
Workers’ compensation denial
As employers, hospitals are required to sustain workers’ compensation insurance. This is used to pay for medical bills and a portion of a worker’s salary if they are hurt on the job.
However, the NPR report outlined a system whereby hospitals routinely deny workers compensation to nurses for on-the-job injuries, claiming the injuries were a result of off-the-clock activities.
This leaves the nurses to fight their hospitals. In Colorado, the state offers mediation and arbitration if an employee disputes a workers’ compensation decision.
If you or a loved one is a hard-working nurse, has been injured on the job and has trouble collecting workers’ compensation benefits, contact an experienced, qualified attorney to discover the best way to protect yourself and your family’s financial future.