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Nurses and Workplace Violence

Nurses, on-the-job violence and workers’ compensation claims

When people think of “dangerous jobs,” professions ranging from construction work and manufacturing are commonly cited alongside law enforcement, firefighting and other public service professions. But as many people working within New York’s health care industry may know all-too-well, nurses and other healthcare professionals working in hospitals are frequently subject to dangerous working conditions for a variety of different - and surprising -  reasons. Not only do nurses and others working in hospitals face intense physical demands, but as a recent Washington Post article indicates, a stunning level of on-the-job violence caused by patients that oftentimes results in debilitating injuries and an inability to return to work.

Nurses and Workplace Violence

How often do nurses face on-the-job violence? 

Numerous instances of workplace violence have made headlines in recent months, leaving multiple nurses across the United States with serious injuries. In late September, Arkansas Online reported that a nurse in Arkansas was pushed down a flight of stairs by a patient arguing with staff members. Just two months prior, a Massachusetts nurse was stabbed multiple times by a patient unhappy with his medical care.  And shockingly, in May, two Chicago nurses were taken hostage while providing care for an inmate, one of whom was beaten and sexually assaulted.

But even in spite of the American Nurses Association implementing a “zero tolerance” policy of workplace violence last year after an incident in South Carolina left more than a dozen nurses with injuries, the Washington Post reports that up to 75 percent of nurses face abuse from patients - and their family members - while on-the-job. The Washington Post reports that as a result, the American Nursing Association has lobbied for safety measures ranging from better lighting, to bolted-down furniture that cannot be thrown as a result, with safety measures being implemented on a state-by-state basis.

What are other on-the-job dangers for health care workers?

In addition to facing threats of workplace violence, nurses face on-the-job risks similar to those that workers in other professions, such as construction or manufacturing, face every day. As discussed by the Gwinnett Daily Post in April, nurses are at risk of suffering debilitating back injuries and other injuries due to heavy lifting, moving around at odd angles (such as reaching over a patient’s bed or wheelchair) and working directly with patients that may be ill. Nurses also face increased risk of infection and exposure to highly dangerous radiation, toxins and other chemicals.

To make matters worse, the Gwinnett Daily Post article reports that studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that the percentage of adults across the United States suffering from obesity rose to from 30 to 37.7 percent between 2000 and 2014, meaning patients at hospitals, mental health facilities and nursing homes may be getting heavier and more difficult to care for, too. No matter how a nurse may be injured while on-the-job, whether at the hands of an abusive patient or due to injuries related to the job’s physical demands, no injured worker should have to face the aftermath of their injuries - or the physical and financial demands of a safe recovery - by themselves. With the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, injured workers can ensure they receive the benefits they’re entitled to collect after an injury.

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