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Injured health care provider a risk for both provider and patient

There are a few misconceptions about workers' compensation in Maryland. First of all, an injured worker does not have to become injured through some catastrophic workplace accident in order to pursue benefits. Workers in Maryland can obtain benefits to cover medical expenses and supplement lost wages in instances of repetitive stress injuries, or the aggravation of a pre-existing condition as well.

Additionally, workers' compensation benefits are not reserved only for certain occupations: construction workers, industrial workers, restaurant workers, office workers and even health care workers can pursue compensation for a workplace injury. While health care workers are not a group that initially come to mind as often needing compensation due to suffering an injury through the course of their work, the injury rate in this field is actually higher than most would expect. Particularly in the private industry, health care workers stand out as suffering more injuries with a 33 percent higher workplace injury rate.

Many of these injuries arise from lifting patients, improper exposure to infection and blood borne pathogens, or physical assault from a colleague in an environment of increasing pressure. The National Patient Safety Foundation expresses their concern by saying, "Production and cost procedures have reduced complex, intimate, care giving relationships into a series of demanding tasks performed under severe time constraints."

It appears that these increased pressures create an environment of high-stress, disruption, compromised health in the provider and thereby compromised patient safety. Clearly, this is an issue that needs to be addressed. While injured health care provides can file a claim to collect workers' compensation benefits in Maryland, this appears to be a larger issued that needs to be addressed to protect the health of health care providers and their patients alike.

Source: amednews, "Warning sounded on demoralized health care work force," Kevin B. O'Reilly, March 18, 2013

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