Nurses play a critical role in the healthcare system in the United States. In addition to the hard work they do each day to take care of their patients and help doctors and other healthcare professionals, they also provide compassion and comfort to those in need, provide health education to the community, administer health screenings, and provide countless other support and resources to their colleagues and patients.
What happens, though, when the nurse becomes the patient after suffering an injury on the job? Although many people may not think of nursing as a dangerous profession, they face workplace hazards that can become a health risk. Nurses spend time walking, standing, lifting, bending, stretching, and encounter hazardous chemicals.
If you are a nurse, what should you do if you are injured at work? Let’s look at:
- The Most Common Occupational Injuries Affecting Nurses
- What To Do If You are Injured at Work
- Common Questions About Worker’s Compensation for Nursing Injuries
Common Occupational Injuries Affecting Nurses
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, hospital workers have a higher-than-average occurrence of an occupational injury or illness. Nurses specifically face a high risk of injury. In 2016, there were 19,790 nursing occupational injuries that resulted in at least one missed day of work.
The most common types of injuries nurses face are:
- Overexertion: Overexertion injuries happen when a nurse uses excessive physical effort, repetitive motions, and repeated twisting, lifting, and bending. Most overexertion injuries happen when a nurse needs to move or lift a patient to provide care. Overexertion injuries can result in muscle sprains or tears, back injuries, knee injuries, and other muscular and skeletal ailments.
- Slips and Falls: After overexertion, slips and falls are the second-leading cause of injuries for nurses. Hospitals and doctor’s offices often have tripping hazards and obstacles caused by water, ice, bodily fluids, grease, and other liquids. There are also cords and other hazards that can easily cause an accident.
- Harmful Substance Exposure: Hospitals and healthcare facilities contain many toxic chemicals that are either a byproduct of treatments or designed to keep the spaces clean and sanitized. Nurses may encounter cleaning chemicals, organic compounds, sterilant, medications, and latex. Accidental exposure can be harmful and injure a nurse.
- Violence: Sometimes, patients in a hospital setting can become confused or agitated. This can lead to violent outbursts, most often directed at the nursing care team. Although violent encounters accounted for only about 12% of injuries to nurses in 2016, the labor bureau reports that the incidence rate amongst nurses was about three times greater than the rate of violent events for all other professions.
If you are a nurse and were injured on the job, you have the right to seek worker’s comp benefits to pay for your medical expenses and reimburse your lost wages.
What To Do If You Are Injured At Work
Many workplace injuries in the healthcare industry go unreported, but you do not have to suffer through your injuries. The worker’s compensation program in Pennsylvania is designed to help you with your income loss and medical bills and expenses while you recover.
If you are injured on the job, here are a few of the steps you should follow to best protect your rights to worker’s compensation benefits under Pennsylvania law:
- Report your injury immediately: As soon as possible, notify your employer of your injury, preferably in writing. You should be specific about how you were injured and what injuries you suffered. Ask for copies of any reports your employer creates related to your injury.
- Request the list of approved physicians: Under worker’s comp law, you are required to see one of the physicians or healthcare professionals on your employer’s “panel list.” The panel list includes doctors that are approved by your employer and its insurance company that can assess workplace injuries. You are required to use an approved physician for the first 90 days of your injury.
- Seek medical treatment: Even if you feel your injury isn’t worthy of a doctor’s visit, you should still seek medical attention from a provider on the panel list. Some injuries can become worse over time, so seek medical attention immediately. Be honest and thorough with the medical provider and be sure they record all your symptoms related to your work injury.
- Consult with a worker’s comp attorney: The worker’s comp system is designed to help people who get injured on the job, but the process can be overwhelming. Insurance companies typically deny or delay claims, such that having an excellent Lancaster, PA attorney on your side can make all the difference in getting the benefits you are owed. Consulting an experienced and top-notch work injury attorney in Lancaster, PA can take away the stress and anxiety and give you the peace-of-mind you need and deserve. Georgelis Injury Law Firm, voted the Best Law Firm in Lancaster County for 9 years running (as part of Lancaster County Magazine’s annual “Best of Lancaster” survey), has helped thousands of local workers protect themselves and their families after a work-related injury or death. Moreover, our firm never charges a fee for the time we spend meeting with you and handling your case. Instead, only if we recover benefits for you or protect your existing benefits through litigation, are we entitled to a fee.
If you were injured on the job, you have the right to file for worker’s compensation benefits. Do not let your employer or its insurance company sway you into not filing a claim. Your employer’s worker’s comp insurance is meant to help you after you’ve suffered an injury.
Common Questions about Workers’ Compensation for Nursing Injuries
Many people that file for worker’s compensation benefits have questions about what happens after they file a claim. If you suffered an occupational injury, you, too, may be wondering what happens after you file and how you can return to work. Know you are not alone.
Some of the most common questions about worker’s comp include:
- How long does the insurance company have to review my workers’ comp claim? When someone gets injured on the job and reports it to their employer, the employer’s insurance company has 21 days to either accept or deny the claim. If you filed a claim, you may not know if the insurance company accepts it for three weeks. Oftentimes, the insurance company will begin to pay medical bills without either accepting or denying the claim, especially if you are not working with a worker’s comp attorney. Making sure the best possible workers comp attorney is by your side can help ensure that your injury is accepted by the insurance company as work-related in a timely manner.
- What happens if I am released to modified duty after my work injury? After your injury, your doctor may release you to “modified work duty.” Modified work duty is less physical work than your normal position. If you suffered a back injury, for example, you may be released to your job in a part-time role with no lifting or transferring of patients. In this case, your benefits may be reduced to two-thirds of the difference between how much you were earning before your injury and your wages in the part-time position. A top-notch Lancaster, PA law firm can make sure that you are being paid the correct amount in temporary total or temporary partial disability benefits and that the insurance company does not improperly try to close your claim.
- What happens if I decline to return to work after my doctor approves my return? If you decline to return to the job, the insurance company is likely to attempt to reduce your worker’s comp benefits. They can argue that you are capable of performing some level of work—and thus earning some degree of wages—so it is appropriate to reduce, suspend or terminate your indemnity or wage-loss benefits. Many times, the workers’ compensation carrier makes this move after an “independent” medical examination; therefore, they have paid a physician for a medical opinion—frequently, contrary to your own doctor’s opinion—and then try to change your benefit status based upon this “bought” opinion. Again, the top workers’ comp lawyers in Lancaster, PA know when such a move is coming, know how to best prepare for such a move and know best how to respond to such a move to protect your medical and wage loss benefits.
- Why is it important to get a worker’s comp attorney following a work-related accident? Most employers and their insurance companies have a legal team, including lawyers, private investigators, medical case managers and adjusters, working to minimize the amount of money they spend on insurance claims. You deserve the same vigorous representation to fight for your rights to benefits. The best way to protect your rights is to have an experienced worker’s comp legal team help you through the process.
There are many unknowns when filing a worker’s comp claim, especially for nurses who are injured on the job. If you suffered a work-related injury, reach out to a powerful, aggressive Lancaster, PA worker’s comp law firm to protect your rights.
Your Workers’ Comp Law Firm in Lancaster, PA
At Georgelis Injury Law Firm, we are dedicated to fighting hard for the rights of injured nurses and have recovered millions of dollars for Lancaster’s nurses injured on the job. Our attorneys are very experienced in the workers’ comp process and can help you with your claim. Don’t let the insurance company control the outcome of claim—talk to us first, free-of-charge, to have all of your questions answered and receive our analysis of where your case stands and how your claim should proceed. We have decades of experience and know the legal system inside and out. Let us help you win your case and get the benefits you deserve after your occupational injury.
Our team is ready to help. We offer free consultations and are available 24/7. We will put our knowledge and experience to work for you. We do not charge a fee for our time, and we only are compensated if, and when, we win your case. Call 1-800-HURT-NOW for a free and no-obligation discussion of your workers’ compensation case.