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While nurses are called angels, they are also heroes

Professionals in the health care industry in Illinois and other states are duty bound to restore health, alleviate suffering and keep patients safe. If you are a member of this profession, you may -- like many others -- find it difficult to focus on the well-being of patients while your own life is threatened every day. The president of the American Nurses Association said the prevalence of violence against nurses is undermining the U.S. health care system.

The physical exertion of the job already makes nursing a hazardous occupation in which moving and lifting patients often lead to musculoskeletal injuries exceeding those suffered by construction workers. The results of a recent survey indicated that a significant percentage of nurses had experienced verbal and physical abuse by patients.

Are assault and abuse just part of the job?

Authorities say this is a notion to dispel because it is not part of the job. However, looking at some examples of what nurses endure certainly leaves that impression. Not all cases of violence against nurses make the news, but those that do are enough to let health authorities strive for zero tolerance. The following are some of the examples that made the news:

  • In May, an inmate receiving medical care held two nurses hostage and abused them at gunpoint.
  • Last year, a patient in another state attacked 14 nurses.
  • In June, a dissatisfied patient in an emergency room stabbed a nurse multiple times.
  • In September, An argumentative patient pushed a nurse down a flight of stairs.
  • Overall, nurses report that while they focus on saving lives, they are being yelled at, pummeled, spat at, scratched, kicked and stabbed by those whose lives they want to save.

These are but a few examples that make nursing an occupation in which the rate of violence far exceeds that of all other occupations combined. Some authorities say nurses face more dangers than police officers and correctional officers. In fact, they say that nurses deserve the same recognition and honor that society shows for these officers.

Along with physical injuries, as a health care worker, you might suffer psychological harm following cases of abuse and violence. While the workers' compensation insurance system of Illinois covers both physical and mental harm, proving such damage to be work-related can be challenging. This is where the support and guidance of experienced legal counsel can be invaluable.

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