Most Americans are very lucky to have access to healthcare when we need it. Whether we are sick or injured, it is a great comfort to know that hospitals and medical professionals are never far away.
Unfortunately, being a certain kind of medical professional often comes at a great cost to one’s health and safety. Nurses are leading the charge in patient care, but they face serious risks of fatigue, on-the-job injury, and even violence. They are as in need of workers’ compensation coverage as any of the other injured workers they may treat on a regular basis.
Fatigue and accidents related to long shifts
It is common for nurses to work shifts of 12 hours (or more), several days in a row. While this has some definite personal advantages like longer weekends, it can really take a toll on health and increase the risk of mistakes and accidents on the job.
The pace of nursing is non-stop, which means that many nurses don’t eat or rest regularly. Moreover, as shifts get longer, fatigue can set in and increase the risk of mistakes that could endanger patients or lead to injuries for nurses.
Another problem is the physical demands of the job, which often include lifting patients. This can be dangerous and injurious under ideal circumstances, but especially so when fatigued.
A recent news article discusses some of the common problems with lengthy shifts and suggests ways to mitigate them and lower risk of accidents and injuries.
Risks of violence on the job
We are (sadly) used to hearing about mass shootings and violent attacks in public places like schools and government buildings. Although it receives far less media attention, there is an epidemic of violence in hospitals, and nurses are often the most likely victims.
An analysis of government data from 2002 through 2013 tracked rates of serious workplace violence. According to that data, violent incidents were four times more common in hospitals and other healthcare facilities than in the rest of private industry, on average.
Why is violence such a high risk in healthcare settings? There are numerous reasons, including the fact that tensions can run high when people are dealing with a serious medical condition or the health problems of a loved one. And, like schools, hospitals are public and high-profile places that some would-be shooters might want to target.
Takeaways for injured nurses
If you are injured on the job, develop a work-related illness or are a victim of workplace violence, you are likely eligible to receive workers’ compensation. If you want to learn more, get help pursuing a claim or appealing a denied claim, please speak to a workers’ compensation attorney in your area.