Can Nurses Receive Workers’ Compensation for Needlestick Injuries?
Nurses work around many sharp instruments, from scalpels to needles. It is unsurprising that many nurses will accidentally get poked by one of these objects. In the nursing profession, these are called “sharps” or “needlestick” injuries. The great risk is that a nurse will become exposed to someone else’s blood or bodily fluids and, ultimately, pathogens which result in illness.
At the Law Offices of Steinhardt, Siskind and Lieberman, LLC, we have worked with many nurses to get them workers’ compensation benefits. You would imagine the process is straightforward and transparent, but many injured nurses are denied benefits. Call us to speak with a Maryland hospital worker injury lawyer.
How Serious are Needlestick Injuries?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), needlestick injuries typically occur during use, such as when drawing blood from a patient. However, other injuries occur during disposal or while restraining the patient.
The most common devices are:
- Disposable syringe
- Suture needle
- Scalpel blade
- IV stylet
- Winged steel needle
The most dangerous pathogens include HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). It is entirely possible for a nurse to come down with a serious infection following a needlestick accident. The risk will depend on the pathogen, however. The CDC has found that the risk of hepatitis B from a sharps or needlestick injury is 6-30%. By contrast, the risk of HIV infection is much lower, at around only 0.3%.
Can You Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Yes. Nurses are covered under Maryland’s workers’ compensation system. The key will be to link your infection to workplace conditions. One way to do that is to promptly report any needlestick or sharps injury when it happens at work. You probably will not have immediate hepatitis symptoms, but you want to create a record of any penetrating injury while working with needles, scalpels, and other implements.
Many nurses who bring workers’ compensation claims based on exposure to bloodborne pathogens often do not realize anything is wrong until they come down with symptoms. For example, Hepatitis B can cause fever, abdominal pain, and nausea—which are probably the first signs that something is wrong. Nurses are then shocked when a test shows they have Hepatitis B. The needlestick accident could have happened months before. For this reason, it’s best to always have a record of every injury, even if you don’t know whether you will get sick.
Any workplace injury should qualify you for benefits, which will cover the cost of medical treatment. Nurses might also qualify for disability benefits if they can’t come into work.
As mentioned above, an insurer might claim you contracted an infection outside the workplace. Our law firm can help review the facts and show that you suffered a workplace injury.
Do You Need Help with a Claim?
Workers’ compensation benefits are no-fault, which makes getting approved somewhat easier. Sadly, thousands of workers are nonetheless denied benefits. For help with your case, call our law firm to speak with our Maryland workers’ compensation lawyer in a free consultation.