Austin Healthcare Worker Injuries

Healthcare workers are routinely exposed to conditions that put them at high risk of illness, disease and injury.

In fact, working in a hospital is more dangerous than manufacturing and construction occupations, and hospital workers suffer work-related injuries and illnesses at twice the rate of all other private-sector workers.

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In March 2015, a nurse who contracted the Ebola virus on the job announced she would sue her employer, Texas Health Resources, because it failed to provide the equipment and training necessary to protect workers from the deadly illness. She alleged she has suffered from long-lasting health problems caused by Ebola.

Healthcare facilities need adequate training for staff, along with policies that promote a safe work environment. When administrators ignore those needs, they could be putting their employees at risk for injury. If you work for a nursing home, hospital or other healthcare provider and you were injured on the job, you might be entitled to compensation. Call us today for a free consultation, at (855) 414-1012.

Common Healthcare Worker Injuries

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, in 2011, 253,700 hospital employees suffered work-related injuries and illnesses. Of injuries that necessitated days off work for recovery, 48 percent were the result of overexertion or a sudden change in posture, such as lifting, bending and reaching.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that across all other industries, overexertion injures 38 out of 10,000 workers. In healthcare jobs, the rate per 10,000 workers is:

  • 76, for hospital workers
  • 132, for nursing home workers
  • 238, for ambulance workers.

In many cases, injuries occur when a healthcare worker tries to assist or move a patient.

In nursing homes and residential facilities, where many patients may lack mobility, many workers have suffered from back injuries when trying to lift or move patients. Nursing homes should have policies that specify how to safely move patients, but those policies may be inadequate, or unknown to workers.

Patient lifting equipment could greatly reduce worker injuries, yet many hospitals and nursing homes may be reluctant to invest in equipment. Or, they may purchase mobile lifting devices, which some experts say are less effective – and less safe – than equipment that’s permanently affixed to the ceiling.

Texas was the first state in the U.S. to institute a law about safe patient handling. Enacted in 2005, Section 256.001 of Texas Health and Safety Code allows nurses the right to refuse to be involved in patient handling or movement if they believe that activity could harm the patient or themselves. The law also requires hospitals and nursing homes to produce annual reports about risk management for patient lifting activities, and – in the event of remodeling or construction – to study the feasibility of incorporating patient lifting mechanisms in the new design.

Workplace Violence

In 2013, a man whose mother was a patient at Good Shepherd Medical Center, in Longview, pulled out a knife and began attacking people. A nurse who tried to protect patients died in the attack, and four other people were wounded.

Workplace violence is an ever-present threat for healthcare workers. Patients who are upset, intoxicated, or have psychiatric disorders can lash out at health workers with little warning. Family members can also bring an unpredictable element into healthcare facilities.

The American Nurses Association advocates stronger laws to protect nurses and other healthcare workers from workplace violence. In an article about that issue, Texas received mention for its law enacted in 2013 that makes assaulting emergency department personnel a felony. Previously, the offense was a misdemeanor.

Protecting the Protectors

It’s unfortunate that the people who care so much about the well-being of others are at such high risk of job-related injury, illness, and violence. Hospitals and health care facilities should do what they can to improve conditions for workers, even when those protections come with a high cost.

If you work in the healthcare field and have been injured on the job, your first concern might be recovering quickly, so you can get back to work. But don’t forget to take care of yourself and protect your rights. You might be entitled to compensation, and your employer cannot terminate you for questioning its liability for your injuries.

Tell us about your personal injury case. For a no-cost consultation, fill out our contact form or call us today at (855) 414-1012.