As a practicing workers compensation attorney in Baltimore I am regularly retained by certified nursing assistants (CNA’s) for injuries they have sustained on the job.
Benefits to which CNA’s are entitled under Maryland workers compensation laws
Like any other injured worker in Maryland CNA’s are entitled to lost wage payments while being held out of work by a physician. If the treating physician indicates that the nursing assistant is able to perform light duty then he or she is obligated to return to work in the capacity indicated. The workman’s comp adjusters commonly indicate to the injured worker that the injured worker must treat with one of the physicians on the adjusters list. This is not true. At this point it may be wise to consult a Maryland workers comp attorney. Under Maryland comp laws the employee may treat with any physician that accepts workers comp insurance. Absent a contractual agreement or laws indicating otherwise, an employer may require the injured worker to be seen at a facility of the employers choosing. Again, the employee does not have to go to the employers doctor however this MAY interfere with the employee/employer relationship.
The right to medical treatment could potentially last the lifetime of the CNA if the extent of the injury demands so. If the injury is a minor sprain then medical benefits will come to an end. If the accident leads to a life altering condition the CNA will enjoy lifetime medical treatment paid by the workers comp insurer.
An injured CNA is also entitled to a settlement or permanency money if they suffer with any permanent problems as a result of the accident. For this step to take place it is important to retain a Maryland workers compensation attorney to assist in obtaining an evaluation with the correct physician.
Common Injuries among medical staff
In my opinion the most common workplace injury seen among certified nursing assistants are back injuries. Often back injuries are sustained while tending to a patient. Cleaning bed ridden patients, applying bandages, adjusting covers, and manipulating body parts all require a great amount of force to be exerted by the nurse. Considering that many CNA’s are females with less upper body strength it is of no surprise than when having to repeatedly move patients weighing 100 lbs or more they are injured. Among CNA’s are people of all ages, some young and some more seasoned. Age does come into play when considering the vulnerability to injury and this is reflected among statistical data collected by the workers compensation commission. In fact, Maryland females ages 50-59 sustained the highest number of injuries in 2015.
In addition to spinal injuries I see a fair amount of CNA’s suffering from shoulder injuries. Again, these injuries are often associated with having to move patients that are bed ridden.
Common Incidents among medical staff
Moving and attempting to lift patients seems to be the most common mode of injury among CNA’s and medical staff however there are also some other re-occurring incidents that I see among clientele. Slipping, tripping, and falling is a fairly common mode of accident among medical staff. Often the cause being wet hospital floors or wiring from the machines in the patients room. Throughout their 8 or 12 hour shifts the medical staff must constantly enter rooms with wires and cords all over the place. Some rooms, depending on the severity of the patients condition, seem to look like cobwebs of wires. It is no surprise that staff is injured when they are walking through these rooms on a regular basis.
Hospice or home care medical staff are often injured in a similar manner. They often enter homes they are not familiar with, exposing them to hazards that are usually not considered. Consider the loose step entering the elder’s home, the threshold entering the patients bedroom, or the imbalanced furniture piece that may break or fall at anytime.
Precautions employers should be taking
Some seem more obvious then others but employers can take steps to alleviate risks to which medical staffers are commonly exposed. For the petite or older CNA, assistance with moving the bed ridden patient must be provided. A 150lb CNA should not be expected to roll over a 200 lb patient without help. Lose or long wiring and cords should be secured off of the floor of patients. Alleviate the tripping hazards. Hospital floors are susceptible to getting wet and when they do they can be extremely slippery. Requiring staff to wear particular shoes can alleviate the risk of slips.
Contact a Maryland workers compensation attorney to discuss your case for free!