Hospital Support Workers are responsible for providing care and assistance to patients in a dynamic medical environment that remains open 24/7. Typically, these healthcare workers take vital signs, change dressings, keep records, and provide aid to ensure that every patient is safe and comfortable. Based on the worker's training, some health care support teams assist the nurses through daily operational tasks. Common duties of hospital workers include:
- Assist every patient with their necessary hygiene activities,
- Record vital signs and report results to nurses, doctors, and other superiors,
- Administer drugs to hospital patients,
- Sterilize equipment,
- Collect, label and store captured biologic samples and specimens,
- Maintain hospital supplies to ensure they are well organized and properly stocked for easy accessibility,
- Work as a team with other medical professionals including physicians, nurses, and physical therapists,
- Properly dispose of hazardous materials or waste products,
- Follow all hospital policies, procedures, and protocols
Other hospital workers include clinical assistants who maintain housekeeping of the ward, patient service assistants who provide beverages and meals, porters who assist aides in transporting and lifting patients, ward clerks that staff the hospital's reception desks and volunteers who assist with fundraising and other functions.
If you or a family member was injured while working at a hospital, you are likely entitled to workers compensation benefits. Contact the workers compensation attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC for more information and a free review of your legal rights and options.
Hospital Worker Health Hazards
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2014, there were 294,000 nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses involving Hospital Workers. According to the data, working and a hospital is one of the most hazardous occupations were 6.8% of all full-time workers suffer some injury every year. In fact, in 2011, 58,860 work-related illnesses and injuries led employees to take time off from work to recover. The major causes of injuries and illnesses involved:
- Overexertion – Nearly half (40%) of all hospital worker-related injuries were the result of bodily reactions and overexertion caused by bending, lifting, and reaching. Typically, these injuries were caused when handling patients.
- Sprains and Strains – More than half of all physical injuries occurring in a hospital setting involved workers experiencing sprains, strains and other musculoskeletal injuries caused by patient interaction.
- Slips, Trips and Falls – Nearly a quarter of all injuries occurring to the hospital staff happened by slipping, tripping or falling.
- Unreported Injuries – Nearly one out of every four staff members took sick leave or change their shift to recover from unreported injuries. In fact, 80% of all nurses in hospital setting say that they have frequently gone to work even though they are suffering from work-related musculoskeletal pain.
- Sharps and Needlesticks Injuries – According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), personnel working in a hospital environment sustained an average of 384,000 injuries related to sharps and needlesticks every year. This is only a small portion of the estimated 5.6 million workers at risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens caused by contact with sharps and needlesticks.
- Exposure to Blood – Blood-borne pathogens can be a critical concern in a hospital setting when the worker is accidentally exposed to an infectious disease. This exposure can occur in a variety of ways including contact with blood and bacteria on soiled linens, gowns and objects of the patient's room.
- Hazardous Drugs – Hospital workers are at risk for exposure to hazardous drugs that occur from touching equipment, removing syringes, or transferring drugs from one container to another. Other workers are exposed to hazardous medications by coming into contact with feces or urine from patients who have taken the drug. This includes hazardous medications used to treat cancer, and those that are used in hormone therapy and as antivirals.
- Hazardous Work Environment – The environment of a busy Hospital or Medical Center can produce environmental and physical hazards. Some of these dangerous scenarios include excessive noise, slippery floors, poor lighting, electrical hazards, and inadequate ventilation. The more training the health worker receives concerning potential occupational safety and health hazards, the more successful they can be at avoiding an accident, reducing the risk, and minimizing occupational stresses.
- Hazardous Cleaning Materials – Workers are often exposed to numerous cleaning materials and products including sanitizers, disinfectants, insecticides, and pesticides. Many of these chemicals are known to produce adverse health effects on employees including those that are known terminal and respiratory irritants.
- Increased Exposure Due to Poor Ventilation – Hospital settings must have local ventilation systems to help lower elevated concentrations of airborne disinfectants and sanitizers. Unfortunately, many older hospitals were constructed would general ventilation systems.
- Latex Allergies – Hospital workers have an elevated risk of developing allergic reactions through latex glove exposure. Some of the associated symptoms include running nose, itching, difficulty in breathing, and anaphylaxis shock induced by the allergy.
- Stress – The environment of a hospital setting exposes workers to demanding, emotional situations that involve patients, their condition, their recovery and their families. Stresses and all-too-familiar reality with dire consequences to the hospital worker who might have difficulty sleeping, challenges with their job performance, and a higher risk of alcohol and drug abuse.
Many life-threatening hazards and risk factors can be avoided if the worker follows the latest rules, regulations, procedures, and protocols to ensure a more nurturing environment. Understanding the potential hazards of can occur in a hospital setting can protect the worker from any dangerous occurrence that could cause harm.
Hospital Workers' Wages
The annual employment data maintained by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for the year 2016 revealed that there were 30,150 Hospital Workers employed in the Chicago, Naperville and Arlington Heights metropolitan area. These statistics reveal that Hospital Workers earned on average $13.35 per hour, or $27,760 every year. This job-related income is approximately the same compared to national averages. See Chart
Hospital Worker Fatalities and Injuries
Many incidents involving fatalities and injuries occurring in a hospital setting to the result of minimal training, and effective plans on how to determine workplace hazards before someone is harmed. Recent cases involving fatalities, murders, and injuries occurring in hospital settings include:
- Case 1: Birmingham Alabama – In May 2018, A disgruntled Birmingham hospital worker wounded a medical worker and killed a 63-year-old nursing supervisor before taking his own life at the hospital. The Initial reports indicate that law enforcement was confused as to how the employee entered the facility with a loaded gun to bypass the metal detector system in place to protect workers, patients, family members, and visitors.
- Case 2: Decatur, Alabama – A 41-year-old Decatur-Morgan Hospital employee died after being involved in an elevator accident at the Decatur General Campus. Apparently, the hospital worker was making repairs on the freight elevator system not used for transporting patients when it came down on him causing fatal injury. The local police department and the Alabama Department of Public Labor will investigate because OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) exempts hospitals from Federal investigations.
- Case 3: The Bronx, New York City, NY – In June 2017, a disgruntled physician killed a doctor and wounded six other individuals, five of them in serious condition before setting himself ablaze and shooting himself in the head. The angry doctor wore a lab coat and carried an AR-15 rifle while on a rampage in the Bronx Hospital. The serious attack came after the physician had been accused of sexual harassment and was arrested and charged with sexual abuse involving a Manhattan woman.
- Case 4: Washington DC – In 2013, a hospital worker died from inhaling Freon fumes released by air conditioning equipment. The incident occurred at the MedStar Washington Hospital Center. For other individuals were treated after being overcome by fumes from a legal Freon gas, which is known to cause of fixation in confined spaces. The worker had entered a mechanical room near the facility's auditorium to fix the A/C unit. The worker was immediately overcome with fumes and taken to the hospital's emergency department where he died.
- Case 5: Celebration, Florida – in December 2016, a Florida Hospital Worker died on the job after collapsing. Investigators were informed by the 27-year-old decedent's family members that she had not been feeling well in the days before she died. Immediate reports did not detail the cause of her death.
- Case 6: St. Paul Minnesota – A November 2004, a Regents hospital worker died after becoming entrapped in the hospital sanitizing room. The area was used to sterilize large equipment. Early reports indicate that the woman had walked into the washer to clean a hospital medical cart. The steam generated by the washer caused severe burns to the woman who died later that day. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) investigated the incident to understand better how the accident occurred when the worker was trapped in the sanitizing washer.
Staying Safe at the Hospital
Hospitals can provide employees sufficient training to prevent many workplace injuries. This includes developing, enforcing and promoting a comprehensive program that involves safe lifting, repositioning, and transferring patients. The program also develops a better sense of preventing serious accidents that are caused by exposure to hazardous materials and sharp objects. Developing a safer workplace helps to ensure safer care is provided to the patient. This is because stress, injury, and fatigue of the caregiver and hospital workers are tied to a higher potential risk of patient infections and medication errors. Common precautions and preventative measures to stay safe in the hospital include:
- Taking necessary steps to avoid blood-borne pathogens including practicing hand hygiene and decontaminating/cleaning instruments.
- Remaining diligent to avoid sharps and needlestick injuries that include contaminated scalpels and other sharp objects used at the hospital.
- Using proper devices to reduce the potential risk of developing a musculoskeletal injury including following protocols when transferring immobile patients between their wheelchair and bed.
- Receiving training to learn how to remain safe from chemical hazards
- Receiving fire safety training
Hospital management is encouraged by OSHA, the Department of Labor and other agencies to improve their management systems to reduce slippery floors, minimize exposure hazards, and reduce stress levels of employees throughout the facility. Also, employees are encouraged to wear protective gear including eyewear and masks along with latex gloves while performing appropriate protocols and procedures when exposed to hazardous environments.
Second, injured caregivers and hospital workers are unable to provide a high level of quality care to ill patients. The hospital management team should create protocols that never place the health of the worker at risk. Injured workers have a right to file a claim for workers compensation benefits. Just like all other workers in every other job location, they have the right to perform their duties in a safe workplace. When this does not occur, the employee can exercise their rights to financial recovery by seeking the assistance of a worker's compensation attorney.
Contact A Hospital Workers Compensation & Injury Law Firm
Our law firm helps injured Hospital Workers obtain financial compensation under the IL Worker's Compensation Act and through civil lawsuits. Call Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers (888-424-5757) today for a Free Consultation.
Dealing with the horrific aftermath of an on-the-job accident can be complex, tricky and challenging. Our legal team understands you and your family are already dealing with enough when it comes time to file a claim through Worker's Compensation. Our team of attorneys can navigate your claim through Government regulations and red tape, the state's statute of limitations and how to prove third-party negligence in a court of law.
With legal representation, your lawyer will provide immediate services without you needing to make an upfront payment. We accept every compensation claim through contingency fee arrangements.
This agreement means your legal fees are paid only after our attorneys have negotiated an out of court settlement on your behalf or have successfully resolved your recompense case in a court of law. Be assured; if we do not win your case, you owe us nothing!