NURSES’ RIGHTS TO RECOVER AGAINST VIOLENT PATIENTS

article-2591479-1CA54D1200000578-303_634x763Nurses enjoy an extremely high level of trust and respect, which is well-deserved. Unfortunately, this level of respect does not prevent nurses from having one of the highest rates of on-the-job injuries resulting from assaults.

One study published in 2014 found that about one-third of the nursing staff at a big city hospital had been physically assaulted within the past year. The study found that many of the injuries are caused by patients or their family members who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or who are undergoing withdrawal from alcohol or drugs. Just a few weeks ago, in September of 2015, one of the nation’s largest hospitals, the Bergen Regional Medical Center in New Jersey, was cited and fined by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for failing to have adequate procedures in place to protect its employees, after eight separate attacks by violent patients within a three month period.

Nurses who are injured as a result of workplace attacks by patients have the right to be compensated for their injuries. Like all employees, nurses, who are assaulted and injured on the job, have the right to make a claim for workers compensation, just as they would with any other on-the-job injury.

In addition, it may be possible to pursue a claim against the patient or the family member who assaulted the nurse. In one reported case in Massachusetts, a visiting nurse recovered $145,000 from the husband of a patient after the husband assaulted the visiting nurse. The same legal principles that allowed this visiting nurse to recover would also allow a hospital-based nurse to recover for an assault.

Our firm has extensive experience in obtaining compensation for first responders such as police officers and fire fighters who are assaulted in the line of duty. The issues involved in obtaining a recovery for police officers and fire fighters in these situations are similar to the issues involved in obtaining a recovery for a nurse who has been the target of an on-the-job assault. If you know of a nurse who has been injured in an assault while at work, please have him or her contact us for an evaluation of the situation to determine whether we may be able to assist them in obtaining fair compensation for their injuries.

– Paul Johnson, Esq.