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Healthcare Worker Injuries: The Rise in Violence Against Hospital Workers in Minnesota

by Kristen Gyolai | February 12th, 2016

Sometimes people get the impression that there is only one category of workers who are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits – people who perform hard labor (i.e. construction workers, machinists, manufacturers). However, that is simply untrue. Workers’ compensation injuries can occur to all types of people in all different types of work settings.

One category of workers who are often overlooked with regard to workers’ compensation injuries are those in the health care industry. The rising risk of healthcare worker injuries came to light for many recently after a security camera caught an elderly patient attacking a nurses station with a pole at St. John’s Hospital in the Twin Cities.

The patient broke a nurses wrist and hit another so hard that she suffered a collapsed lung. Two other nurses suffered injuries while trying to escape the patient’s path of violence. This footage was chilling and it brought to light a rise in violence against hospital workers in Minnesota.

Health care workers often encounter resistance from patients when trying to administer care. For example, patients might fight against workers when attempting to transfer or otherwise move a patient. In some cases, patients also resist workers’ attempts to administer injections or medications. Such resistance can result in serious injury to a healthcare worker, resulting in the workers own need for medical attention and/or missed time from work.

Following the incident, a state health task force assembled to try to identify the causes of hospital violence and promote safety precautions for medical workers. Whatever the cause and whatever the precautions, one of the most important things for health care workers to understand is that being attacked, being pulled, being struck at is not “part of the job”.

If you are injured, either by the intentional or unintentional acts of a patient in a healthcare setting, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. No matter how small or big the injury is, you should make sure you document the incident that occurred by filling out a First Report of Injury and/or telling a supervisor right away.

Someone injured on the job in a health care setting should seek medical attention immediately. Unfortunately, many healthcare workers’ will ignore their own need for care, putting their concerns for their patients over their own health.

They may also simply elect to consult a fellow coworker (i.e. another doctor, nurse, assistant) for advice or care surrounding an injury, instead of actually being admitted to the hospital for care. When the injured worker elects to just seek advice from a coworker, there is no medical record reflecting the care provided, which can cause problems with the Workers’ Compensation claim later down the road.

The two most important things to remember when you suffer an injury on the job in a healthcare setting are:

  1. Report it to a supervisor.
  2. Seek medical care.

After that, seek a Minnesota workers compensation attorney’s advice on what workers’ compensation benefits might be available to you. If you or someone you know has been injured on the job, contact Fields Law Firm today for a free consultation.

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Kristen Gyolai studied law at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota after earning her bachelor’s degree in communication and writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where she graduated magna cum laude. Kristen believes that being a good lawyer means being a good listener. Her ability to listen allows her to be the voice for injured victims who need help standing up to big insurance companies.