COVID-19 made us increasingly aware of how important healthcare workers are to our communities and cities. However, healthcare employees are among the highest reported private industries for injury and illnesses.
The Health Services field (which in some statistics include education services) made up 27.5% of reported injury and illness cases in Pennsylvania for 2019, the second highest percentage for any professional field. Health services includes hospital workers, ambulatory professionals, and residential care facility staff, among other clinical professionals.
While we rely on medical workers to provide care and comfort, the physical demands of their jobs can cause a variety of common healthcare worker injuries including sprains, contusions, and fractures, in addition to infectious diseases and contamination.
The majority of healthcare worker injuries are a result of manual patient handling, which in many cases include professions like registered nurses (RN), nurse assistants, Licensed practical nurses (LPN), etc. Such injuries can arise from lifting, pulling, pushing or overexertion. Other injuries can arise from handling a patient and being struck by or against something. In Pennsylvania, the rate of hospital worker and nursing home career injuries caused by some form of overexertion, physical activity manually handling a patient, is more than twice the average for full-time workers.
Over half of total claims in the healthcare industry are caused by injuries sustained while lifting (more than 30%) and pushing or pulling (20%). Healthcare worker injuries are often to upper and lower extremities, with injuries to the lower back and shoulders accounting for half of the total injury claims by healthcare workers.
Sprains and strain injuries are also common in the health service field, making up almost 40% of injury claims.
Nurses and hospital staff the most likely to experience healthcare risks and injuries, accounting for 67.6% of healthcare worker injury claims.
In addition to physical accidents such as stress injuries and falls, commonly the result of patient handling, they are also routinely exposed to toxins, infectious diseases, and contaminated medical equipment (eg. needles and blades).
Working in a hospital setting, hospital staff come into contact with uniquely dangerous infections resistant to conventional antibiotic treatment, putting them on the front-line combating viruses, infections, and other transmissible diseases.
Healthcare worker injuries can be costly both in terms of treatment and time away from work, and can occur regardless of age. Of the 47,508 reported health service (and education service) injury cases in Pennsylvania in 2019, the two most common age groups were 25-29 years (12.4%) and 55-59 years (11.8%). The median age for injury and illness cases was 43.7 years. However, the average cost per claim increases as employees age.
While the average cost per claim for those ages 25-34 is about $3,000, cost per claim for 65 years of age and older can be more than $11,000. The most expensive injuries by healthcare workers are caused by slipping, tripping, or falling. Injuries sustained from these actions on a dry, level surface have an average cost per claim of about $9,000.
The average claim for accidents involving slipping, tripping, or falling from a height is more than $10,500. Accidents caused by slipping, tripping, and falling can result in fractures, head trauma, and ligament and nerve damage, requiring a median of 10 days away from work (compared to a median of nine days for all types of injuries). Comorbidities, such as obesity, diabetes, and smoking can also exacerbate injuries and increase time lost from work.
Healthcare professionals are covered by worker’s compensation laws in Pennsylvania and are eligible for coverage of medical expenses and lost wages.
If you or a loved one has been injured while working in health service, Dugan & Associates worker’s compensation lawyers will work to pursue fair and just compensation for loss of earnings, damages, medical expenses, and home aid such as a care giver or nurse.
Contact us today online or by telephone at 412-353-3572 to speak with a knowledgeable Pennsylvania healthcare worker's compensation lawyer to get the treatment and compensation you deserve.
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