Nursing is tough profession. Many nurses work long-shifts. They are constantly at risk of sprains, falls, back injuries and other types of bodily injuries. They are also at risk for infections, illnesses, and diseases. They have to work with people who, by definition of being in a hospital, aren’t at their best. These caregivers deserve to be compensated if they are injured or suffer an occupational illness due to their work.
The role nurses play in helping those who are ill has never been more prominent, due to the coronavirus. Nurses are literally putting their lives on the line every day to help patients who have developed COVID-19 because the disease is highly contagious.
Types of nursing workers’ compensation claims
Work injury claims by nurses generally fall into the following categories:
- Infectious diseases. Nurses can be exposed to diseases by:
- Breathing the same air as patients
- Being sneezed or coughed on by patients
- Touching a patient who has an infection disease
- A needle prick which contains the infections disease
- Toxin exposure. Nurses regularly deal with chemicals which can cause a workplace illness. For example, ethylene oxide, a toxin, is regularly used to sterilize medical instruments.
- Radiation exposure. Nurses are often asked to take X-rays of patients. If the machine or protective equipment malfunctions or they fail to wear proper protective equipment, a nurse can be exposed to dangerous radiation.
- Slips and falls. Nurses are focused on their patients. They’re not focused on looking at the floor. Nurses can easily trip over loose wires and objects that fell. They can easily slip on wet surfaces or fall down a flight of stairs. The risk of a serious fall increases if they are moving a patient or carrying objects such as medications or food for the patient.
- Violent attacks. Some patients have emotional problems which can cause them to strike or hit a nurse – especially if they mistakenly think the nurse is going to cause them harm.
- Over-exertion injuries. Lifting, pushing, and moving patients and medical equipment involves people and objects that may weigh several hundred pounds. One wrong maneuver can cause muscle damage, nerve damage, and other types of short-term and long-term injuries.
- Repetitive stress injuries. Nurses are constantly tasked with entering data, filling out charts, checking for a patient’s temperature, and doing other repetitive tasks. Repetitive stress injuries can cause bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other serious injuries.
- Psychological injuries. Working with sick people, people who may die, and people who may never recover takes an emotional toll on nurses. Nurses who suffer from depression or other emotional difficulties may have the right to workers’ compensation benefits, including the cost to treat with psychologists and other mental health professionals.
How is COVID-19 affecting nurses?
Nurses are some of the many heroes of the COVID-19 panic. They are helping patients in ER departments, ICU facilities, and in recovery rooms. Every day, even with masks and other protective gear, they are placing their lives at risk. North Carolina has categorized nursing work as “essential” to COVID-19 care.
Nurses who contract COVID-19 at work may have the right to claim their illness is an occupational illnesses. This means nurses should seek compensation for their medical expenses including hospital stays and their income losses (up to the amounts North Carolina law allows) if they contract COVID-19.
If a nurse tragically dies due to contracting COVID-19 at work, dependent family members may be entitled to death benefits.
Nurses who are injured at a hospital, a nursing home, a physician’s office, or anywhere where they are working for their employer have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim. At Warren & Kallianos, PLLC, our experienced work injury lawyers fight to show the injures were due to a workplace accident or that the illness was due to workplace conditions. We thank all nurses during these trying times. We’ll help you fight for your workers’ compensation benefits. Call us at our Charlotte, North Carolina office by phoning 704-377-7777, or by filling our contact form.