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Dealing with Violent Patients Can Hurt a Nurse's Body and Career

One of the most common forms of injuries nurses experience on the job comes from the patients they are attempting to treat. Months ago, we reported how nearly 20 percent of nurses in the nation experience workplace violence at the hospitals. It, unfortunately, won't decrease very easily considering how unpredictable patients or their families can get in these stressful settings.

What makes matters worse is that nurses who experience severe injuries from these outbursts or are hurt repeatedly could risk losing their careers. They need time off to recover, but even places that specializes in treating injuries have set limits on how long they can be gone for. Recently, a nurse in Iowa experienced the consequences of these limitations.

Not healing fast enough

Last October, a female nurse for a mental health institute in Fayette County was attacked by one of the patients. She went to multiple doctor appointments to receive treatment for her head, knee and shoulder for five months.

In March, she tried asking for more time off, but her employers instead requested test results from a neurology test the very next day. The doctors who tested her still needed weeks to finalize the results. The hospital fired her shortly afterwards, leaving her with only a month before her health insurance coverage ended.

Suffering from someone else's actions?

While the worker losing her job from the attack is tragic, it isn't completely illegal. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to employees. If the worker still hasn't recovered in that time frame combined with their paid time off, then they could risk losing their jobs.

Unfortunately, many nurses are at risk of getting into these scenarios. Violence occurs in hospitals at a much higher rate than most workplaces, whether it is in a mental institute or not. All it takes is one angry patient or family member to make a medical professional require medical attention.

If you or a loved one suffer an attack at work and fear how it will affect your future, contact a workers' compensation attorney to explore your options. 

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