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Workers' compensation: a prominent concern for injured nurses

Although the following tale centrally relates to one hospital, in a larger sense it is more meaningfully focused upon an entire industry and a vitally important worker subset within it.

That industry is health care, with the employee focus being on the workers that deal most intimately and routinely with patients on a daily basis, namely, nurses.

The topic addressed in a National Public Radio article cited above zeroes in on nurses, specifically their on-the-job injuries and workers' compensation benefits they are entitled to legally rely upon when they suffer workplace injuries.

As NPR's story reveals, a hospital in one state has routinely refused to characterize -- and for a number of years -- its injured nurses' injuries as job-related, denying them workers' compensation benefits.

A doctor in charge of that facility's staff clinic complained many times of hospital administrators' responses to what were deemed injuries clearly related to job functions being carried out while at work. He stated in one email that the hospitals' workers' comp department was "mean-spirited." In another message, he stated that its acts were contrary to "the very foundation of quality and patient safety."

An investigation conducted by NPR revealed that mistreatment of injured nurses by hospital administrators is a problem of national magnitude. The probe concluded "that officials at most hospitals across the country have failed to do much about the epidemic of back and other injuries" affecting nurse employees.

One stated reason for that is money. Safety fixes, such as the procurement of special lifting equipment and the implementation of training programs -- are costly, with hospital priorities often being centered on doctors' needs.

One health care writer cites an additional cause, namely, that nurses have been devalued for decades by principals in their industry.

The NPR article points out that every state has a workers' compensation court affording injured workers the right to appeal benefit denials.

New York nurses and their counterparts across the country -- as well as employees from all other industries -- might want to always keep that centrally in mind and seek the services of a proven workers' compensation attorney when they confront an unreasonable employer or insurance company following a work-related injury.

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