American hospitals are among the most dangerous workplaces in our nation. New Jersey medical workers suffer higher incident rates of injury when compared not only to general private injury, but specifically to the construction industry. That is right -- hospital employees have higher accident and injury rates than both manufacturing and construction workers! Health care workers take more time away from work, and continue to work with injuries, more often than almost anyone else in the United States. Sadly, hospital administrators and health care leaders do not seem to acknowledge the situation, and high injury rates persist within the medical community.
Hospital workers are exposed to a diverse array of hazards that are not present in other industries. Lifting patients with limited mobility, for instance, can cause serious injury that requires rehabilitation before returning to work. Additionally, the culture of a hospital or other health care facility dictates that workers "do no harm" to those for whom they are providing care. Workers tend to put their own welfare behind those of their patients, which can lead to severe workplace consequences.
In the fast-paced, quick-decision medical care environment, how can employers protect their employees from a workplace accident? The answer is often as simple as improving patient safety protocols -- what is good for the patient is generally good for the caregiver. Infection control methods, for instance, protect patients from infection while also providing a barrier to exposure for workers themselves.
Ultimately, it is the hospital's responsibility to make sure that patients and workers alike are protected and safe during their time at the facility. Health care workers do not deserve to suffer permanent disability or pay outrageous medical expenses simply because they were doing their jobs. Medical workers who are injured at work should receive a fair amount of compensation for their injuries so that they can return to work quickly, just like employees in other industries.