Registered nurses (RNs) provide critical care for patients and are vital to the U.S. healthcare system. Nurses are commonly employed in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other facilities. These jobs can be extremely demanding physically. The equipment they use and the facilities they work in often pose safety hazards that could cause severe injuries.
In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the rates of illness and injury for RNs are some of the highest in the healthcare industry.
Are Hospitals Understaffed? Are Nurses Overworked?
Many hospitals are understaffed, which means the nurses must take on a high workload and perform tasks alone that would be safer with assistance. For example, the safest way to lift a patient is with two people, but many nurses feel pressure to do this on their own if their co-workers are busy. This can cause back injuries, which is the leading type of injury nurses sustain.
Being overworked also can increase stress. Nursing is very physically demanding, and they are on their feet the whole time. Nurses must care for many patients during their shift, and they must do so with precision and kindness. In addition to providing care, nurses are required to make a thorough written or electronic record of the patient’s health, which takes time.
In a hospital setting, nurses typically work long 12-hour shifts. One report from the Institute of Medicine points out that shift work, or working through the night, is an especially big stressor for nurses. Shift work has been proven to increase stress and lower productivity, along with increasing the risk for injury.
What Are Common Workplace Injuries for Nurses in Oklahoma?
Nurses are at risk for a variety of injuries. The most common by far is back injuries due to repetitive stress. Other common injuries include:
- Sprains and strains
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Head injuries
- Broken bones
- Infectious diseases
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top causes of injuries among nurses differs significantly from other industries. The top causes of injury are:
- Overexertion and bodily reaction (46% of injuries)
- Falls, slips, and trips (25% of injuries)
- Violent events (12% of injuries)
- Contact with objects or equipment (10% of injuries)
Since injuries affect a nurse’s ability to work, healthcare organizations are constantly trying to implement programs to reduce injuries, such as training programs on safe lifting techniques, and using new technology to assist where possible. Even so, improvement comes slowly, and many nurses still sustain severe injuries while helping their patients.
Options Available for Injured Healthcare Workers Like Nurses
If you have been injured on the job, you may be owed compensation. There are three main ways that you can receive compensation for your injuries:
- Workers’ compensation benefits – Employers are required by the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Code to provide workers’ compensation insurance to their employees. Most injured nurses in Oklahoma should be eligible for compensation through this program. Worker’s compensation may cover the cost of medical treatment and lost wages for the time a nurse misses work due to injury, as well as death benefits if a nurse dies from work-related injuries. Workers’ compensation also offers temporary and permanent disability for injured nurses, with the amount of compensation dependent on the severity and the duration of the injury or illness. The workers’ compensation claim process can be difficult to navigate, and some nurses find that their claim gets denied or underpaid the first time they apply.
- Disability benefits – In addition to workers’ compensation, some injured nurses may also be eligible for disability benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The requirements to receive these federal disability benefits are very specific. You must have worked long enough to earn a certain number of work credits, and you must be unable to work for at least a year. SSDI does not offer short-term disability benefits.
- Personal injury lawsuit – If you are eligible for worker’s compensation, you are prohibited from suing your employer for your injuries. However, if someone else was responsible for your injury, you may be able to file a lawsuit against that individual. In order to have a personal injury case, you will need to prove that individual caused your injuries either through negligence or their intentional actions.
The attorneys at Ryan Bisher Ryan & Simons have helped thousands of employees receive compensation for their injuries. We can discuss the details of your case and help you decide which sources of compensation you should pursue.
What Happens If I Am Injured and Can No Longer Work?
If you have sustained an injury that prevents you from ever returning to work, you may be eligible for either partial or total permanent disability through workers’ compensation. Partial disability is for individuals who recover enough to work again but are unable to do the same job. If an individual cannot work at all, they may be eligible for permanent total disability, which can last up to 15 years or until the employee is eligible for full retirement benefits. The amounts will vary based on your circumstances.
If you are unable to return to the same type of work, you may also be able to receive compensation for vocational rehabilitation so you can become qualified to perform a different type of work.
How Our Workplace Injury Lawyers Help Nurses Hurt on the Job
The attorneys at Ryan Bisher Ryan and Simons have been helping injured Oklahoma workers pursue compensation for their injuries for over three decades. Workers’ compensation cases can be very complicated, so it is critical to hire an experienced attorney to help make sure you get the full benefits you’re entitled to.
As a nurse, you have served your patients and have given them your all, and you deserve this same type of care and attention as your recover from your own injuries. Our attorneys will give you one-on-one attention as we seek to understand your case and negotiate for you to receive the maximum compensation you are owed from all available sources
Please give us a call now to schedule a free consultation.