What Steps Should You Take When an Employee is Injured at Work?

Hospitals are a hazardous place to work.  Each day, your medical staff is at risk for serious illness and injuries centered on patient care.

Musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) are the most-reported injuries in the field.  Infectious patients, accidental jabs with needle sticks or surgical instruments contaminated with blood-borne pathogens, exposure to noxious chemicals found in cleaning agents and anesthetic gases, contact with toxic drugs, slips and falls, violent assaults by patients with mental illness or dementia, electrical shocks or burns, radiation exposure, as well as stress from a heavy workload also put workers at risk for illness and injury.

Despite efforts to provide and promote adequate safeguards, these injuries are a reality of the job.  When they happen, it’s crucial you know what to do.

Step #1: Make sure you know about the injuryright away.

Hospital management is sometimes the last to know when an employee suffers an injury or illness in the workplace.   That’s because some injuries, such as MSIs, develop over time.  Nursing personnel often shrug off spinal or shoulder strain until chronic pain hampers their ability to function on the job.

What’s more, some workers don’t report an injury or file a worker’s compensation claim for fear of losing their jobs.  To dispel this fear, it’s important to create an atmosphere of honesty and trust with your medical staff.  Let them know it is your obligation to protect them.  Showing you value their safety and have their backs boosts morale, gets them the help they need to return to work sooner, and gives them options to stay on the job but perform lighter duties while they recover.

Step #2: Take medical action immediately.

Getting prompt medical attention for an injured employee is your first response and legal obligation.  Failing to do so, even when an injury is minor or not an emergency can leave you open to a lawsuit.  Showing concern and empathy to an injured worker is also a must.  It encourages workers to come forth when a mishap occurs.  In the long run, a prompt and positive response to staff injuries decreases absenteeism, increases worker productivity, retention, and safety, and minimizes worker’s compensation costs.

Step #3:  Gather facts about the incident.

To protect worker safety and prevent false claims, clarify (and document) how the injury occurred.  Be comprehensive.  Get the injured worker’s account, interview witnesses, take photographs, and review video footage if available.  Timing counts.  Injuries reported immediately provide the most accurate witness accounts.

Step #4:  File insurance claims within 24 hours post-injury.

After an employee informs you about a work-related injury and has received medical attention, provide them with a claim form and, if possible, have them report their injury to the workers compensation provider right away.   It is your duty to report the claim as well (that’s where your accident investigation facts are useful).  Make sure your injured employee receives a copy of your filed claim.  These actions—filing claims and studying the circumstances surrounding employee injuries—helps workers get back to work faster and identifies trends for further risk and loss reduction strategies.

Step #5:  Stay on top of your employee’s medical claim and concerns.

It can take up to 90 days for a claims administrator to accept or deny workers compensation benefits.  This lengthy wait leaves injured workers uneasy.  Let them know you are advocating for their well-being and doing all that you can to accelerate the approval process.

Presuming that the injury or illness is work-related, make sure the injured employee moves forward with medical treatment while the claim is pending.  Most state compensation guidelines mandate hospitals to provide substantial coverage of medical expenses in this interim period.  Many employees do not know this, which can add up to back-to-work delays, loss of a valued employee, and greater compensation costs.

Step #6:  Establish a relationship with your employee’s healthcare provider.

While doctor-patient confidentiality must be upheld, checking in with your employee’s physician, therapist, or medical team to see how treatment is progressing ensures best practice care.

Step #7:  Check in with the injured employee.

Reaching out to an injured or ill employee provides a lifeline.  Knowing you are thinking of them and have a place for them when they return to work is a huge emotional boost and can speed up their recovery.
If you are looking for more ways to address  important safety issues in the workplace, rely on BOS Medical Staffing to source the most relevant and up-to-the minute information in the healthcare pipeline.  Since 2008, BOS Medical Staffing has brought talented nurses, therapists and medical administrators together with top facilities.  Contact BOS Medical today to talk about customized staffing solutions.

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