Workers and patients face high risk of injury in North Carolina hospitals

CNN recently reported that incidents of violence against medical caregivers in hospital emergency department settings are on the rise. Earlier this year, a shooting at Scotland Memorial Hospital offered local insight into this national worker-safety issue.

In February, WRAL-TV5 reported on a barroom brawl that continued in the SMH emergency room after a gunman entered the hospital to hunt down a patient he followed from the scuffle. The victim, who was seeking treatment for cut to the neck acquired during the altercation, was shot twice and critically injured in the hospital trauma department.

Our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers know that the hospital setting is an environment already rife with unique hazards for health care workers. From lifting patients to exposure to blood borne pathogens and biohazard fluids to potential contagion spread by inadvertent needle sticks. Add potentially unstable patients and visitors to the mix, and it is easy to see that hospital administrators, owners and their employees face a perfect storm of lethal workplace challenges on a 24-hour, day-by-day, basis.

Health care workers are constantly called to evaluate every situation, finding that perfect balance between caring for patients and personal safety. While all hospitals have implemented at least some worker-safety protocols – from how to properly move a patient to installing metal detectors and panic buttons to diminish opportunities for unexpected acts – episodes of work-related violence remain commonplace.

Some suggest it is the high-stress environment of emergency departments – where people arrive in distress, in shock, intoxicated or suffering mental dysfunction – that creates an atmosphere ripe for violence. Other blame an increase in social pressures – high unemployment, lack of health insurance, financial strain – as factors that exacerbate the already stressful situation of requiring emergency care. Whatever the case, more and more, people snap. And ER nurses, aides and doctors are on the frontline for facing the brunt of that breakdown.65905_hospital_corridor_1.jpg

North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys with Lee & Smith know that being injured in a work-related accident comes with physical, emotional and financial consequences. Contacting our offices online or by phone at 1-800-887-1965 to schedule a free consultation can help you better understand your rights. Our service areas include:North Wilkesboro, Reidsville, Roxboro, Rutherfordton, Salisbury and Winston-Salem.

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