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Health care professionals face unique risks for workplace assault

We've seen too many instances of workplace deaths in recent years, whether it's teachers being killed by an armed assailant or a terminated co-worker returning to exact vengeance on those he believed wronged him. However, hospital employees face the potential for being harmed at work for a number of reasons.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013, health care and social assistance jobs accounted for 13 percent of illnesses and injuries. The BLS also has found that the health care industry has higher rates of injuries related to violence than other industries.

Health care workers such as those in hospitals have to deal with patients who have mental illness and drug problems, both of which can cause them to behave violently. Sharp medical implements can be used as weapons. Street violence between gang members can others can also spill over into hospitals.

Illinois is one state that has laws in place that require hospitals to have security measures, plans and training in place to help protect their employees from violence. Our state also has specific laws that deal with aggravated assault and battery against health care workers.

Regardless of legal mandates, hospitals and other medical facilities owe it to their employees to make their workplace as safe as possible. Doctors, nurses and staff members can't turn away an aggressive or violent patient the way that, for example, a retail establishment can. They are also more likely to deal with people suffering from dementia, which can cause a person to act erratically or violently.

Anyone who is injured in the line of work is entitled to workers' compensation. They may also be able to hold the facility legally responsible in civil court if it did not take appropriate steps to protect the employee. Illinois personal injury attorneys can provide guidance on your legal options if you were injured or a loved one was killed.

Source: Knowledge at Work, "Healthcare Workers Need Protection from Workplace Violence," accessed Oct. 15, 2015

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