Not only is nursing a thankless job, but a dangerous one. Nursing is one of the most hazardous professions in America. Nurses are often hit, scratched and kicked at by the people they are attempting to treat.
An article by The Washington Post shows a number of stories depicting nurses badly injured at work in acts of violence. In one example, a patient in a Massachusetts emergency room was unhappy with his medical treatment. He stabbed an ER nurse repeatedly. These incidents are far from isolated. Workplace violence in the healthcare and social assistance industry are five to 12 times greater than for the average worker.
How can workplace violence be mitigated?
While shocking to most people, nurses are well-aware of the hazards they face at work. Healthcare workers at Sutter Delta Medical Center, Antioch Health Center, UCSF Medical Center and medical clinics throughout the San Francisco-Oakland area, knowingly brave possible injury every day.
In many states it is a felony to assault a healthcare worker. Unfortunately California has yet to follow suit. However, any assault can become a felony under the right circumstances. California does require healthcare employers to create thorough workplace violence prevention programs. These newly implemented violence prevention standards are some of the best in the nation. Ideally, these programs are in place to help nurses recognize potentially violent situations and respond to them effectively before anyone gets injured.
Long-term injuries are worse yet
Not only must nurses consider a profession where workplace violence is likely, there is a high chance they will acquire cumulative injury from the nature of the job. Long-term back injuries are a typical professional hazard for nurses. Years of standing and walking on hard surfaces slowly wear down joints and cause tension. More often than not, nurses must lift patients by themselves, causing severe strain to their muscles and spine. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses are among the top professions that suffer from musculoskeletal disorders.
Nurses should not ignore pain. It is important that healthcare workers exercise their right to compensation for workplace injuries. A workers’ compensation claim can cover the cost of time off work to recover, as well as the cost of medical care and treatment. However, employers may try to offer as little compensation as possible. Insurance companies may attempt to deny benefits all together, especially for cumulative injuries. Seeking guidance from a workers’ compensation attorney can help injured nurses get the most out of their claim.