Workers' compensation benefits applies to injured hospital workers as it does to all work related injuries. Working in a hospital presents a high risk of injury for its workers. A study done in 2011 indicated that working in a hospital caused its workers to suffer injuries and illnesses resulting in days away from work higher than any other field or profession including construction, manufacturing, private industry and professional and business services.
Hospital workers injured at work are entitled to workers' compensation as any other worker is. This includes wage replacement, payment for medical care, vocational retraining, benefits for scarring and loss of function and settlement benefits if applicable.
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) hospitals are one of the most hazardous places to work. In 2011 United States hospitals recorded 58,860 work related injuries and illnesses.
Hospitals have serious hazards including:
- Lifting, transferring and repositioning patients
- Needle sticks
- Slip and falls
- Exposure to diseases, illnesses and infections
- Stress and anxiety
Hospital work takes place in an unpredictable environment with a unique culture of helping patients that are injured, suffering from sickness or infection or some other disabling condition. This unique culture can cause the caregiver to feel an ethical duty to do whatever it takes to help the patients sometimes putting their own safety and health at risk to help the patient.
Nearly 48% of the work injuries in hospitals are caused by over exertion or bodily reaction, which includes motions such as lifting, bending or reaching. These motions relate to patient handling and the injuries are most often musculoskeletal in nature.
Another difficulty is that injuries suffered by hospital workers can also put their patients at risk. A hospital worker injured while lifting a patient can cause the patient to fall and suffer injuries. Hospital workers that suffer from fatigue and stress can cause a higher risk of medication errors and patient infections.
OSHA has developed tools to help hospitals and their workers that can be found at www.osha.gov/dsg/hospitals. Information is in three key areas:
- Understanding the problem - this area includes booklets on worker safety in the hospital.
- Solution - safety and health management systems - this section has booklets and information on systems that can be set up to improve safety for hospital workers.
- Solution - patient handling - this section has booklets and information on the safe handling of patients giving many helpful techniques and factors to consider.