Hospital Worker Injury Lawyers in Boston
At the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, our dedicated attorneys have experience in work related injuries when it comes to hospital workers. Our attorneys will fight tirelessly to protect the well-being of those who fall ill or become injured while providing care and service to others.
There are approximately 18 million health care workers in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and about 80 million of those are women.
These workers - from doctors to registered nurses to certified nursing assistants to social workers to janitorial staff - are exposed to a wide range of potential dangers. However, the vast majority of injuries and illnesses result from a handful of well-known hazards.
Hospitals are the places we seek for healing. For hospital workers, though, it's usually the place where injury or illness occurs. Hospital worker injury is so frequent, these facilities are well-known as one of the most dangerous places to work.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the recorded rate of work-related injuries and illnesses at hospitals across the country is more than 253,000 annually, which breaks down to about 7 hospital worker injuries for every 100 full-time employees. Of those, nearly 60,000 were forced to take time off work due to job-related injury or illness. Hospitals have a higher rate of "days away" to due to job-related injuries and illness than construction, manufacturing or any private industry. Those who work at hospitals were three times more likely to be injured on-the-clock or fall ill because of a work-related disease compared to people employed in business and professional services.
- Overexertion/ repetitive stress. Workers in health care are seven times more likely to suffer musculoskeletal disorders in comparison to other workers. Aides and attendants are at the highest risk.
- Patient handling injuries. Health care is very hands-on work. Patients are frequently lifted, repositioned or transferred from one surface to another. This puts workers at risk of numerous injuries because people - especially those who are hurt - can be unpredictable, overestimate their own strength or even violent.
- Violence. Health care workers are constantly at risk of violence, most often by patients who are impaired, confused, mentally ill or known criminals. OSHA reports health care worker and health service workers are at high risk for episodes of injurious violence.
- Slips, trips, and falls. Hospitals can be chaotic sometimes, and it's not uncommon for there to be numerous fall risks due to everything from equipment cords and tubing to loss of bodily fluid or other liquids spilled on the floor.
- Infectious Diseases. Needle sticks could result in the spread of blood-borne infections, like HIV or Hepatitis C. Workers are also routinely exposed to infections via contact with airborne pathogens, mucous and bodily waste.
Frequently, these injuries and serious illnesses result in forced time off work, not to mention medical bills (despite having decent health insurance plans). This can leave healthcare workers and those in health services drowning in debt or sometimes - incredibly - unable to get the care they need. When an injury or illness has a work-related cause, your medical bills and a portion of your lost wages should be covered - regardless of fault, by your employer's workers' compensation insurer. If you work in health care, it's almost guaranteed your employer has a workers' compensation insurance plan, as required by Massachusetts General Law Chapter 152 Section 25A.
This may entitle you to coverage that includes:
- All medical bills related to the health problem;
- Lost wages, up to 60 percent of your average weekly pay (prior to taxes) if you're disabled five days or more (and these five days need not be concurrent);
- Reasonable cost of travel to and from medical visits;
- Other benefits if you become disabled (i.e., compensation for loss of a body part, retraining, etc.);
- Death benefits for spouses or dependents in the event your work-related injury or illness ultimately proves fatal.
Your employer should be immediately informed and you should seek prompt medical attention, even if it doesn't seem serious at the time.Why Hospital Workers are Uniquely at Risk of Injury
There are a few reasons why healthcare workers are more prone to injuries than those in other professions.
In addition to unique risks at hospitals (lifting and transferring patients, needlesticks and violence), caregivers very often feel a strong sense of ethical duty to "do no harm" to their patients. This is important and noble, but the problem is many healthcare workers put their own health and well-being at risk to help save or care for a patient - many of whom may not understand or have control of their bodies or actions. Others may simply not care who they hurt.
The other issue is: Hospitals are not assembly lines. There is no contingency for every single scenario. Health care providers must often react to unpredictable situations in a split-second and think critically while remaining calm.
Also factoring into higher injury rates in the field is that collectively, healthcare workers are aging. Statistically, that makes these workers more vulnerable to illness and injury.
Those who work in nursing homes, emergency rooms and intensive care units generally suffer high rates of injuries (due to less mobility among patients) than health care workers employed in ambulatory facilities, like doctor's offices.
Hospital worker injuries most frequently involve:
- Strains and sprains - 54 percent
- Bruises - 11 percent
- Soreness/ pain - 10 percent
- Fractures - 5 percent
- Multiple trauma - 3 percent
- Cuts and punctures - 3 percent
- Other - 14 percent
These injuries come at a significant price. For starters, the average cost of a healthcare worker injury in recent years, according to OSHA, is between $16,000 and $22,000 - and that doesn't include the losses hospitals incur trying to staff those roles while workers are out recovering. The estimated cost to replace a nurse (many of whom leave the profession due to injuries and stress) is upwards of $103,000.
Hospital worker fatalities are rare - about 25 annually - but they do occur with regularity.
Given that health care is one of the fastest-growing employment sectors, we can expect to see a rise of hospital worker injury in Massachusetts and throughout the U.S. In most cases, workers' compensation is the best and fastest way to make sure your medical bills are paid and you can stay financially afloat. Our workers' compensation attorneys in Boston will also be sure to explore the possibility of third-party liability, which will entitle you to a broader range of damages (though you will be required to prove fault).
The same way you are dedicated to the health of your patients, we're committed to the best interests of our clients.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.