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Common Injuries to Healthcare Workers

At Stern & Cohen, many of our clients come from the healthcare industry. We understand that a job in the healthcare field is not only mentally draining, but physically demanding as well. Whether you are working in a hospital, emergency department, doctor’s office, or as a home health aide, the risk of a work injury is very high.

We have successfully litigated a wide range of injuries suffered in the healthcare field, such as repetitive stress injuries from lifting, maneuvering, or repositioning of patients; needle sticks; assaults from violent patients; slip and falls; back injuries; occupational diseases; infections; broken bones; head injuries, etc.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 750,000 Pennsylvanians work in the health care field and supporting occupations, so there is no shortage of injuries that could occur while working in the healthcare arena. This blog will highlight some of the more common injuries.

Overexertion/Repetitive Stress

In Pennsylvania, you do not need to suffer a distinct, traumatic injury to be availed Workers’ Compensation benefits.  Continuous overexertion or repetitive stress injuries are recognized under the Workers’ Compensation Act.  For instance, if you are constantly leaning over to treat patients, it may cause stress on your lower back or neck.  This can lead to disc bulges, disc herniations or other spine-related injuries.

Patient Repositioning

Maneuvering and repositioning patients is an extremely common mechanism of injury in the healthcare industry, especially when it comes to home health aides. A one-on-one home health aide who is required to lift, maneuver, and reposition a patient is at a very high risk of injury.  It is very common for patients to fall or go limp during repositioning, which inevitably leads to an injury. In Pennsylvania, it does not matter if the injury occurs while in the patient’s house. If you are in the course and scope of your employment as an aide, the injury is compensable.

Needle Sticks

We know that doctors, nurses, and aides deal with sharp objects on a regular basis.  Cuts, lacerations, punctures, etc., can and do, happen on a daily basis.  One good thing about Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation is that it is a no-fault system.  That means, even if you make a mistake and cut or puncture yourself, you are still entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Assaults

We have successfully handled cases where a healthcare employee is assaulted by a patient.  We see this more frequently when the employee deals with behavioral or mentally disabled patients.  If you are injured after being physically assaulted by a patient, your only remedy may be through Workers’ Compensation, so please reach out to our office.

Slip & Falls

Slip & Fall injuries occur every day in all areas of employment. Healthcare workers are not an exception. This is an industry that is prone to unexpected liquids on the floor in the workplace.  As discussed above, even if you are working as a home health aide while working in a patient’s home and you slip and fall, you are still entitled to benefits for your injuries.

Back/Neck Injuries

As with all employment, neck and back injuries are very common in the healthcare field.  Heavy or awkward lifts can be taxing on the spine and joints.  Spinal injuries can be serious and permanent and require proper medical attention.

Infectious Diseases

Fortunately, we see a light at the end of the tunnel from the Covid-19 pandemic. The entire Stern & Cohen team would like to thank all the healthcare workers who were, and still are, battling at the front lines. COVID-19, just like any infectious disease contracted at work, is a compensable injury.  In fact, we have litigated multiple Covid-19 cases in our clients’ favor.  We recently achieved settlements of $500,000 and $200,000 in two more severe cases.  All employees who work in a hospital, nursing facility or any healthcare setting were, and remain, at a high risk of contracting Covid-19 and other infectious diseases. Typically, if you happen to contract a disease, the employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance company will deny your claim, alleging you did not contract the infection while at work.  If this happens to you, please contact our office.  We have an intimate knowledge of how to handle these cases.  We are experts in developing the evidence to meet your burden of proof for a case of this type.

Steps to Take After a Healthcare Injury

As a health care worker, you may have to switch roles and become a patient. If you happen to suffer a work injury or contract an infection, the first thing you should do is notify your employer.  Your employer must go through the proper steps to ensure your injury is handled correctly.  The next step should be contacting a lawyer to make sure your case is properly handled.  Obtaining the right medical care with doctors that have your best interests at heart is critical.  Navigating the complicated process with the insurance company should not be done alone.  We have decades of experience representing health care workers in Workers’ Compensation claims. Give our office a call. The consultation is free.

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