Worker Safety in Hospitals
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) reports that approximately 250,000 medical staff are injured in hospitals each year. The reasoning behind this is not that staff are careless or hospital administrators are allowing the environment to remain unsafe. In fact, hospital injuries have lessened over the years but not as significantly as industries such as construction or manufacturing.
Hospital work, in fact, is inherently dangerous. Common types of worker injuries reported in hospitals are caused by:
- Lifting and moving patients
- Needlesticks and bloodborne pathogens
- Slip and falls
- Violent patients or visitors
- Contagious patients
An OSHA report suggests that hospital staff may be at further risk of injury due to the altruistic nature of the job itself. In fact, an increased concern for and emphasis on patient safety may ultimately mean that a worker feels compelled to jeopardize their own safety to keep patients from harm.
Keeping Hospital Workers Safe
Although OSHA recognizes the countless risks that hospital workers face, the organization also recognizes that there are many ways to improve worker safety overall.
- For preventing lifting injuries, use dedicated, trained lifting teams, ceiling mounted lifts, and lateral transfer equipment.
- When in contact with bloodborne pathogens, use protective equipment, staff training, and vaccinations.
- To prevent needlesticks, use shielded needles, plastic capillary tubes, and needleless devices.
- When dealing with violent patients, identify factors present for patients prone to violence and avoid situations that may put hospital staff at risk of violence.
Additionally, OSHA has an extensive list of safety measures hospitals and healthcare workers can implement to reduce exposure to contagious disease. These measures include hand washing, evidence-based guidelines for disinfection of facilities, and environmental infection control strategies.
When Is the Hospital Responsible for a Health Care Worker’s Injuries?
In 2015, a North Carolina nurse injured her back in a succession of incidents involving moving patients. She was eventually diagnosed with lumbar interbody fusion, requiring extensive surgery to build a metal cage around her spine.
Under normal circumstances, an injured nurse, doctor, or other healthcare worker would be entitled to Workers’ Compensation. These benefits cover medical bills and lost salary due to time spent recovering. However, the hospital fought to prove that her injuries were not caused at work. To add insult to injury, the hospital terminated the nurse’s job, claiming she was no longer fit to perform the duties required by nursing staff.
In the end, the nurse was awarded benefits and the hospital was investigated for fraud. However, this case illustrates the possibility that sometimes injuries sustained at work are hard to prove or denied by the employer. Any healthcare worker injured in a hospital should make sure to enlist the help of a Workers’ Compensation attorney before attempting to file a claim.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers of Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Advocate for Injured Hospital Workers
If you have been injured at work, contact a Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Our attorneys have experience with Workers’ Compensation laws and can help injured workers receive the benefits to which they are entitled. For a free consultation, call us at 888-999-1962 or contact us online today. With office locations in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina, we provide qualified legal counsel to workers from the surrounding areas.