Rosengren Law Office, LLC

Nursing accidents: Needlestick injuries can cause infections

Health care workers in Minnesota face an endless list of occupational hazards. Injuries caused by sharp objects represent a sizable percentage of overall incidents. Registered nurses are at a significant risk of nursing accidents that expose them to blood-borne infections if safety protocols lack standards to monitor use and disposal safety of needles and other sharp instruments and objects.

Research by the American Nurses Association indicates that these risks concern almost two-thirds of the members of the association. Authorities believe that only about one-half of needlestick injuries are reported, making the annual incidents even more staggering than the reported approximate 385,000 per year. These numbers were reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although registered nurses are at a significant risk of suffering needlestick injuries, employees in other occupations also need protection. These include other nursing staff, physicians, laboratory staff, housekeepers and others in the health care industry. ANA endeavors to use legislation and education to provide resources and guidelines to help employers to create environments where health care professionals will be better able to prevent injuries.

Until work environments benefit from more protection, nursing accidents will likely continue to occur. Fortunately, the Minnesota workers' compensation insurance program provides injured health care workers the opportunity to file benefits claims, which could ease the unanticipated financial hardship. An attorney who has experience in dealing with the benefits claims process can assist with the legal and administrative proceedings. The benefits typically cover medical expenses along with a financial package to make up for a portion of lost wages.

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