When Healthcare Workers Become Patients

Healthcare workers and social assistance personnel have some of the highest injury rates within the private sector and in 2015 had 158,400 incidents that required at least one day away from work. Nationwide, the healthcare industry has an incident rate of 113.6 per 10,000 workers which was down slightly from 121.3 in 2014. The incident rate remains considerably higher than the rates recorded in the retail and manufacturing sectors which highlight the reality that healthcare workers face considerable risks of injury or illness in a profession whose public image is generally considered to be relatively safe.

Causes of Injury

Healthcare workers can experience any number of injuries while on the job. For example, nursing assistants may suffer strains and sprains while moving patients throughout the hospital. Nurses and physicians can suffer needlestick injuries or chemical exposures while tending to patients. Radiologists can be exposed to toxic levels of radiation.

Most alarmingly, all healthcare workers can be the targets of workplace violence coming from either patients or peers. From 2011 to 2013, 75% of all incidents of workplace violence occurred in healthcare settings. It is estimated that approximately 80% of emergency medical personnel will experience workplace violence at least once in the course of their career. These incidents range from verbal assaults to direct physical confrontation that can cause serious injuries.

The Impact of Injuries

Common healthcare worker injuries include back strain as well as damage to the spinal cord, damaged muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Healthcare workers also suffer pinched nerves and rotator cuff injuries at a higher rate than many other professions. These injuries can make it more difficult if not impossible for workers to perform their jobs and they can diminish the quality of care they are able to provide patients.

An Illinois workplace injury attorney can pursue work injury claims against employers whose negligent actions place workers at risk of accident or injury. Common forms of negligent behavior on the part of a healthcare employer include inadequately staffing facilities, providing limited training to personnel, and failing to provide security to protect healthcare workers from incidents of workplace violence. Healthcare personnel in Illinois who have been injured on the job can pursue workers compensation claims against their employer. If the incident involved workplace violence, individuals may pursue a third-party personal injury claim against the person or persons who assaulted the worker.