In 2020, there were 25,400 reported injuries and illnesses from healthcare employees in Minnesota. The total number of healthcare injury & illness reports in the U.S. was 806,200 that year. This means that Minnesota accounted for 3.15% of national healthcare injuries in 2020.
These numbers aren’t too shocking if you know that OSHA has named hospitals as the most dangerous place to work. They have an injury rate that is almost twice that of other private industries. So why are healthcare workers getting injured, and what can be done to help them?
Nurses on Strike
Recently, around 15,000 nurses in Minnesota went on strike. These nurses were with the Minnesota Nurses Association, and organized what may have been the largest private-sector nurses strike in the country. While the goal of this 3-day strike was for a new contract with increased wages, nurses have been striking nationwide over a number of safety concerns. They are being overworked, they are exposed to dangerous conditions, and they are underpaid. These issues in the healthcare industry skyrocketed during the pandemic.
The strike ended with no new contract unfortunately, as hospitals claim they can’t afford to pay nurses more.
What Types of Injuries do Healthcare Workers Suffer?
How do nurses get injured? One of the most common ways is lifting and moving patients. Nurses are required to perform a lot of physical tasks, and moving patients around is one of the most frequent. Other ways that nurses get injured include violent attacks by patients, getting poked by needles or other equipment, and falls.
Some of the most commonly reported injuries in the healthcare industry include:
- Sprains and strains
- Cuts and lacerations
- Respiratory illnesses
- Skin disorder
In addition to accidental injuries, there is unfortunately a long history of patients being violent towards nurses, and these incidents are increasing. A survey of hospital nurses reported that 48% of participants saw an increase in patient violence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What Happens After a Healthcare Worker Gets Injured?
When healthcare workers suffer injuries on the job, they are addressed through workers’ compensation claims. Nurses suffer accidental injuries every day and need insurance coverage.
Nurses, just like most other full-time employees in the U.S., are eligible for benefits under their employer’s insurance. This type of insurance is called workers’ compensation, and is there specifically to cover employees who get injured or fall ill on the job.
Unfortunately workers’ compensation claims are not always approved by insurance companies. Common reasons for claim denials include lack of proper documentation, pre-existing injuries, or the insurance company’s doctor saying you don’t qualify for benefits. In these cases, the denial can be appealed with the help of a healthcare workers’ comp lawyer like those at Kemmitt, Sanford & Kramer. Attorneys who specialize in this area will know the best methods for getting a claim approved, and can speed up the process towards recovery.
Can a Nurse Sue a Patient for an Injury?
When a patient is violent towards a healthcare worker, who is liable for the injuries? While not many nurses choose to pursue this, these situations may be eligible for personal injury claims. Both the violent patient and the hospital could be potentially held liable, depending on the specifics of the case and who is found to be negligent.
In a successful personal injury lawsuit against a patient, the patient’s insurance company would need to cover the nurse’s injuries. The nurses’ employer, the hospital, could also be sued for negligence, if they did not provide sufficient protection to their employees. A lawyer can best determine whether a personal injury case is feasible, or whether a workers’ comp claim will suffice.
Ideally both the pay and safety can be increased for healthcare workers, but in the meantime all we can do is help our injured nurses recover.