Nurses Face Increased Risk of Workplace Violence


The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) has estimated that 2 million Americans a year are subjected to violence in the workplace.  Specifically, there has been new light shed on the violence that many health care providers face on a daily basis.  More specifically, nurses are the most likely to experience violence, with up to 82% of emergency room nurses reporting that they have been the subject of physical violence, and 100% claiming they had been subjected to verbal violence, according to a survey conducted by the Emergency Nurses Association. 

Last month, the issue of workplace violence for nurses rose to the forefront when a cardiologist was shot by the son of a patient at a Boston hospital, allegedly upset over his mother’s death.  Although shootings at hospitals are not common, violent crimes at them have been increasing as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Nurses face many risks as a result of their field of work.  Emergency room nurses and nurses who work in psychiatric wards are among those employed by the profession that face the highest risks of injury resulting from violence in their workplace.  Many of those who attack nurses are under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, or suffer from mental illness.  Last year, a 70 year old nurse went into a coma and suffered brain damage as a result of a patient repeatedly kicking her in the head at a New York hospital.  OSHA found that particular hospital had 40 incidents within 3 months, and had failed to take proper measures to prevent such scenarios from occurring.       

In addition, New York is among half of the states that have laws protecting health care workers by criminalizing offenders who assault health care workers.  In fact, assaulting a nurse is a Class D felony with up to seven years jail time.

As well as violence causing injury in the workplace, nurses also face a number of other job related injuries and illnesses that are prevalent in the profession.  Back injuries, slip and falls, exposure to chemicals and diseases, and the injuries that may arise from a patient’s violent episode can all contribute toward a Worker’s Compensation claim if you have to miss work due to your condition. 

The Federal Employees' Compensation Act (FECA) provides federal employees injured in the performance of duty with workers' compensation benefits, which include wage-loss benefits for total or partial disability, monetary benefits for permanent loss of use of a schedule member, medical benefits, and vocational rehabilitation. This Act also provides survivor benefits to eligible dependents if the injury causes the employee's death.

In order to qualify under FECA, you must prove:

  1. You filed a claim within the statute of limitations;
  2. You were an employee of an institution wholly owned by the United States of America;
  3. The injury occurred at work;
  4. You were performing your job while the injury happened; and
  5. Medical evidence establishes the condition is related to the event that occurred at work.  

If you are a nurse who has been the victim of workplace violence or suffered injury as a result of performing your job, you may be eligible to file a worker’s compensation claim.  Contact an experienced personal injury attorney who will work aggressively to secure full and appropriate compensation for your injuries.  Contact the Law Office of Georgaklis & Mallas PLLC at (718) 238-2400 or (212) 779-2400.