According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, serious workplace violence against healthcare workers occurs at four times the rate of other private-sector workers. OHSA considers workplace violence “serious” when the resulting injury requires days off from work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), healthcare and social assistance workers are at much greater risk than other workers of intentional injury (violence). Of the 18,400 non-fatal, intentional injuries among private sector workers that were reported in 2017, 71 percent occurred in the healthcare and social assistance industries. And many injuries go unreported, according to research.
Some 30,000 weapons were confiscated from patients and visitors at the Cleveland Clinic and its regional system in Northeast Ohio. These ranged from pepper spray and screwdrivers to stun guns, edged weapons and firearms. Most of them were revealed by metal detectors in emergency departments.
“Daily, literally daily, we’re exposed to violent outbursts, in particular in our emergency rooms,” says the president and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic. He calls it a “national epidemic.”
It’s also on the rise. Between 2011 and 2017, the BLS says, intentional injuries to healthcare and social assistance workers rose from a little over 6 injuries per 10,000 workers to over 9.
This violence can be perpetrated by patients, family members and other visitors. And, it’s very difficult to create a fully secure facility that still operates as a clinic or hospital. Not only does added security make healthcare settings feel less welcoming and caring, but it can also interfere with rapid access to care.
Many hospitals now have metal detectors. Others have adopted panic buttons and similar systems to protect workers. They have restricted patients from certain areas, installed security cameras, brought in police, trained staff on how to deescalate violence and more. Yet it keeps happening.
Injured by violence at work? Workers’ compensation and injury lawsuits
Pennsylvania law requires such insurance for all employers with one or more employees, so the vast majority of healthcare workers are covered. The workers’ comp system is set up so that the worker does not have to prove their employer was negligent in order to receive benefits. In exchange, workers cannot file personal injury lawsuits against their employer or coworkers.
As long as your injury occurred at work, you probably qualify for workers’ comp benefits. Although no attorney is required to make a workers’ comp claim, a lawyer can help you submit the claim properly the first time, with all the necessary evidence. Additionally, the insurance company will have a lawyer, and you could be at a disadvantage without one representing your interests.
To file a workers’ compensation claim, you do need to report the injury to your employer as soon as possible.
In the case of workplace violence, you may also have a personal injury claim against the person who injured you. The workers’ compensation bar against personal injury lawsuits only applies to your employer and those who work for it. When someone else is responsible for your injuries, you may also file a personal injury lawsuit against that person.
Many attorneys handle both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims and can help you coordinate between the two cases.
Every day, healthcare workers including doctors, nurses, and medical staff are subjected to workplace violence. Have you been injured through violence, find out what your rights are by having an attorney evaluate your situation.