Most people wouldn’t think of hospital work as inherently dangerous or particularly violent, but hospital staff members suffer workplace injuries at a higher rate than people in most other industries. Although many of these injuries result from machinery, dangerous bodily fluids and the physical exertion involved in lifting or moving patients, some of these workplace injuries suffered by hospital staff are the result of workplace violence.
In fact, roughly 1 out of 10 reported injuries in a hospital, approximately 9%, stem from an act of violence in the workplace. Rates of violence may be on the rise. A poll of emergency physicians in 2019 found that nearly half reported on-the-job assaults, and of those, about 60% had occurred in the last year.
Emergency room staff aren’t the only ones at risk
Obviously, emergency room physicians and nurses are on the front line for the hospital, providing care for those brought in from the scenes of crimes and terrible car crashes, as well as those experiencing extreme intoxication, or adverse reactions to prescribed medication or illegal street drugs.
All of those factors can contribute to substantial risk for those who work in emergency rooms or urgent care facilities, but simply avoiding those particular departments won’t protect a medical professional from all cases of workplace violence. For example, those who work with geriatric patients may experience violence caused by patients with dementia who don’t understand that they are actually in a safe place.
A nurse working in the typically safe labor and delivery department could face violence if the state enters the hospital to remove an infant from the custody of their parents or if the staff member must decline access to the facility when an abusive partner for a new mother shows up. There is no department of the hospital, other than perhaps records, where patient violence is a non-issue.
Victims of workplace violence should seek workers’ compensation
When you experience violence on the job, there will be a number of significant repercussions to consider. Obviously, you need medical care to address the physical symptoms of your injury. Workers’ compensation benefits will cover the cost of your care and a portion of your wages while you recuperate.
Your need for care could easily extend beyond the physical. In order to return to your job and feel safe, you may require psychological counseling or therapy. Those who experienced a violent attack may develop phobias from post-traumatic stress that they need to address before returning to work.
Counseling is often prohibitively expensive, which is one very good reason to seek workers’ compensation benefits after an assault in the hospital. That way, you can connect with the support and care you need to return to your job without incurring any personal expense.