Nurses, physicians, physical therapists, phlebotomists and a variety of other trained medical professionals provide hands-on care for patients. Every new patient encounter is a source of personal risk for those medical professionals.
Occasionally, a patient will be the source of a significant injury to a medical employee. They could end up unable to work or in need of medical care. They may also end up emotionally traumatized, which could impact their ability to continue in their chosen profession. Those who understand the ways in which patient care adds to worker risk may have an easier time protecting themselves. These are the top three ways in which patient interactions cause health issues for healthcare professionals.
Violence against healthcare workers has always been a concern. Federal statistics indicate that roughly 9% of all lost-time worker claims from hospitals relate to patient violence. People may become violent because they end up in the hospital while in state custody. Someone arrested for drunk driving with a dangerous blood alcohol level, for example, could end up in the hospital for observation until they can safely go to a state facility. Other people may become violent because they have a bad reaction to medications or have mental health challenges. Patient violence can leave people both severely injured and psychologically traumatized.
Accidental needle sticks are a common concern among healthcare workers. Someone who pokes themselves with a used needle could end up contracting severe illnesses. Patients can also expose workers to pathogens through other bodily functions, including coughing or vomiting. Healthcare workers can end up sickened and unable to work due to pathogen exposure that comes directly from the patients in their care.
The average weight of adults in the United States has increased in recent decades, which means that nurses and other healthcare workers have more to lift. Those providing hands-on support to patients could end up hurting their backs or other joints while trying to support them or picking someone up after a fall.
Patient care injuries could lead to a lengthy leave of absence or even permanent limitations on someone’s functional abilities. Healthcare workers injured by their patients often have the option of filing a workers’ compensation claim. Pursuing workers’ compensation benefits can provide injured medical workers with both no-cost medical coverage and disability benefits while they are unable to work.