Workplaces must be safe and supportive to keep the trust of employees. Few places challenge this idea more than hospitals, where unpredictable conditions and distressed patients make workplace accidents a near-daily occurrence.

Extreme cases have included violent patients punching nurses in the face or even using firearms to take hostages. More common incidents are the result of physically aggressive and verbally abusive visitors or patients affected by substance abuse or grief.

Hospitals were the settings of more than seven out of 10 workplace accidents reported to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) between 2011 and 2013. More recently, a full-time hospital worker was five times as likely to experience a workplace injury as private industry employees in 2015.

Although visitors and patients who cause workplace injuries are rarely held accountable, a culture change advocated by nurses’ groups has increased laws and penalties against hospital employees. Advocates are hoping OSHA will help prevent these situations as well.

Nurses are hoping for better staffing measures to avoid understaffed emergency rooms and other areas of high injury rates. Increased training and other preventative measures to deter violence are also recommended.

For those who have been injured by violence or other dangerous workplace conditions, compensation is one of the few recourses for employees to be made whole. Medical expenses and lost wages for recovery time are eligible for reimbursement, depending on the conditions on an injury.

People who suffer injury, permanent disability and/or extensive recovery times after a workplace injury may consult legal counsel while assessing their options for settlement or court awards.

Source: InForum, “As hospital violence grows, nurses seek reforms,” Aug. 26, 2017