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Employee rights of nurses who are victims of violence

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health has already established standards to protect nurses against violent patients in San Diego and across the state. National Nurses United is now asking that safety standards be established across the country. Over the years, thousands of nurses have been seriously injured in assaults by patients, and many could not return to work. The employee rights for these workers is a significant concern. Recently, a nurse in another state was a victim of an assault.

The nurse says she was injured while helping other nurses and security guards subdue a 150-pound 11-year-old boy who was known to be violent. The patient kicked her in her throat, causing critical injuries that required emergency surgery. She was unable to return to work, and she says obtaining workers' compensation benefits involved a three-year battle before her claims were accepted. The nurse says she suspects the reason for the initial denial of her benefits claims was the facility's unwillingness to report the incident.

The advocates for federal legislation want OSHA to mandate that health care facilities must establish and implement plans to address site-specific threats of patient violence against workers. Under current laws, OSHA inspections only occur after health care workers are killed or seriously injured. Reportedly, the risks of health care workers being injured are five times higher than in any other industry, and prevention is the goal.

Even though health care workers in California have some protection, some facility managers don't comply with Cal/OSHA regulations. Victims of workplace violence in the San Diego area can get help from a local attorney who has experience in fighting for the employee rights of nurses. With the support and guidance of legal counsel, workers' compensation benefits claims can be filed or appealed if initially denied.

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