Monday, June 10, 2019
NEW SPOTLIGHT ON NURSE WORKPLACE INJURIES “Nursing: A Profession in Peril,” a five-part series of reports by consumer watchdog group Public Citizen being released over the spring and summer 2015, explores injuries to healthcare workers, potential methods to reduce these injuries, the policy positions of stakeholders and potential solutions. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) data show healthcare workers perennially suffer more injuries — requiring time away from work — than those of any other profession, and many of these injuries result from handling patients. Public Citizen released part one, “The Health Care Industry’s Castoffs: Nurses Injured at Work Often Find Themselves Out of Work and Suffering from Chronic Pain,” on June 9 and part two, “Taking the Burden Off Their Backs,” a week later. NUMEROUS INJURIES In 2013, the healthcare and social assistance industry reported 629,500 cases of injury and illness cases to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s 152,000 more cases than in manufacturing, the next highest industry sector. Nearly half (48 percent) of injuries that resulted in days away from work were due to over-exertion or bodily reaction, which includes motions such as lifting, bending, or reaching. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) accounted for 33 percent of all injury and illness cases in 2013, and workers who sustained MSDs required a median of 11 days to recuperate before returning to work, compared with 8 days for all types of cases. PAYING THE PRICE When a healthcare employee gets hurt on the job, hospitals pay the price in many ways: workers’ compensation for lost wages and medical costs; temporary staffing, backfilling, and overtime when injured employees miss work; turnover costs when an injured employee quits; and decreased productivity and morale as employees become physically and emotionally fatigued. Workplace safety also affects patient care. Manual lifting can injure caregivers and also put patients at risk of falls, fractures, bruises, and skin tears. Caregiver fatigue, injury, and stress are tied other problems. Nationwide, workers’ compensation losses result in a total annual expense of $2 billion for hospitals. “Taking the Burden Off Their Backs” outlines a number of recommended technologies and policies to reduce injuries to nurses and other caregivers. It describes devices that assist in lifting, transferring and repositioning patients. Because most musculoskeletal injuries in the hospital setting are cumulative, any steps to minimize risks during patient handling tasks will offer substantial benefits for hospital caregivers. Even if patient handling equipment is available, experts concur that successful patient handling programs rely on management directives to succeed, such as written policies and committees governing patient handling practices, methods for employees to report concerns or incidents without fear of retribution, reliable systems to measure incidents and injuries, and the existence of policies that align physical stress demands with employees’ capabilities. According to the report, only a fraction (between 3 and 25 percent) of hospitals have comprehensive safe-patient handling programs. THE RIGHT SUPPORT “It’s unconscionable that so many caregivers on the front lines are relegated to using archaic technology to perform their jobs,” said Taylor Lincoln, research director for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division and author of the report. “Hospitals should provide the necessary equipment and management support to ensure that caregivers are spared lifting requirements that jeopardize their health.” When properly implemented, safe-patient handling programs work. For example, the New York State Department of Health Veterans Home at Batavia reports that it saw a reduction from having an average of nine FTE employees out of work per day due to patient handling injuries to just 0.5 employees after instituting a program that minimized manual lifting. If you are a Nurse in Connecticut and have been hurt on the job, and have questions about your rights and obligations, feel free to call us. Note that no attorney client relationship is established until a signed retainer agreement is on file with the firm. This blog post is offered as free advice only.
United Technologies employs thousands of employees in Connecticut. UTC workers get injured at the main plant in East Hartford, at Pratt & Whitney Middletown, at Hamilton Sunstrand in Windsor Locks and at Otis Elevator in Farmington and Plainville. Common East Hartford Job injuries at Pratt and Whitney include back sprains, herniated discs, neck injuries, torn rotator cuffs, shoulder injuries and knee and hip claims. We have over 30 years' experience working with injured Pratt and Whitney workers to get you your benefits and your treatment. If you work for Pratt and Whitney in a manufacturing or aircraft mechanic role, you may encounter a number of dangers while at work. These common industrial workplace hazards can lead to accidents and injuries including: Severe burns when working near heat sources or using corrosive cleaners Permanent respiratory problems from exposure to paint fumes and harsh chemicals Disc injuries in the neck and back after lifting heavy materials Hand, wrist or finger Joint damage from repetitive, daily movements while assembling parts Deep cuts or broken bones if machines malfunction Hand and arm injuries Forklift accidents When you work for Pratt & Whitney, you may be entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits. These benefits will help you with your recovery regardless of your job title or the type of on-the-job injuries you receive. Call our Hartford Workers Comp Law office today for a free consultation. There are important time limitations that need to be followed in order to protect your rights. Be sure to k now these or hire a knowledgeable Connecticut work injury lawyer to help you. Pratt and Whitney job injury settlements: We can negotiate your Connecticut workers compensation settlement. We have extensive experience working with injured workers in resolving their serious Connecticut work injury claims as quickly as possible. We can resolve eye claims, back claims, shoulder and knee claims, foot, leg and hip injuries, as well as all sorts of contested Connecticut work injury claims. Call our Hartford work injury lawyer today for a free evaluation of your matter.
Thursday, June 6, 2019
Repetitive trauma injuries accumulate over time and often result in severe injuries for construction. Construction workers operate in hostile environments where life-changing accidents are common, but cumulative stress injuries caused by repetitive motion, exposure to toxins, vibrations, loud noises, or sustained positions can be just as debilitating. Cumulative Trauma Explained Cumulative trauma refers to a series of small injuries or prolonged exposure to a hazardous environment or physically demanding work that can accumulate into life-altering injuries. Cumulative trauma usually coalesces in the muscles, bones, joints, nerves, tendons, spinal cord, and other vulnerable areas. Cumulative stress injuries can result in long-term pain or disability, increased medical costs, and lost wages if the worker is unable to perform his duties due to the injuries. Sources of Cumulative Injuries Cumulative injuries result from exposure to regular duties in construction. For example, construction workers who are exposed to loud noises on a persistent and prolonged basis can suffer injuries to their hearing and other vulnerable body parts over time. Workers who engage in repetitive activities also suffer from serious injuries. Specifically, electricians and trim carpenters are vulnerable in their hands, joints and shoulders because the repetitive motion wears out their joints and tendons. Continuous exposure to toxins, even those that are “safe” or in “low-doses” can damage the brain and cause other injuries. Moreover, construction employees who regularly stand or sit on vibrating surfaces also incur significant wear and tear on their bodies. Workers who regularly perform awkward- or heavy-lifting also suffer damage to their hips, knees, and back – even if they lift properly. Exposure to loud noises, heavy lifting, and repetitive motions can cause subtle but detectable injuries which, over time, can result in disabilities which could require the worker to take an extended leave from work to recover. Possible Injuries Exposure to various incidents can result in a broad range of injuries, including but not limited to: Carpal tunnel in the joints (particularly wrists); Tendon and joint problems (such as tendonitis, bursitis, and arthritis); Deafness; Cancer; Lung problems; and Hand-arm vibration syndrome which is significant nerve damage in the hands and arms due to vibration exposure.
Monday, May 20, 2019
Did the injury occur at work? The answer to why an employer would dispute a workers' comp claim is simple and boils down to a single five letter word: money. Like any other type of insurance product, employers pay premiums to provide workers' compensation benefits to workers (in most states, this is mandatory). Premium amounts are directly affected when injured workers file for benefits. Premium Costs Logically, the more workers' comp claims that are filed, the higher the costs for employers. Workers' comp insurance premiums increase when more workers than estimated file for claims, or when an employee has a particularly expensive claim (for instance, requiring back surgery). It is for this reason that employers and their insurance companies routinely use investigative agencies to monitor the daily activities of workers who have filed workers' compensation claims. Employer Bias Unfortunately, many employers don't believe that some injuries are serious or even valid, especially cumulative trauma injuries. They assume that a worker who files for workers' compensation benefits on the basis of carpal tunnel syndrome, another repetitive stress injury, or a lumbar back injury is not being completely truthful (or is "malingering," the industry term for feigning sickness or disability for financial gain). Employer bias is particularly strong against injuries involving inexplicable pain that cannot be wholly verified by medical examination, or even sufficiently verified by x-rays, other imaging, or nerve conduction studies. Does this mean that the injured worker who has constant back pain is malingering? Definitely not. Many medical conditions are difficult to objectively verify. Reasons for Denial of a Claim If your employer or its insurance company denies your claim, or any part of it, it should inform you in writing. Typical reasons given for denying a claim are: You didn't suffer a serious injury. Your injury didn't take place during work, or within the scope of employment. You don't need medical treatment for your injury. You don't need time off work for your injury. Fighting a Denial of Benefits If you receive a notice that your claim has been denied, call or write to your employer's workers' comp insurance carrier. If this doesn't solve the problem, hire a workers' comp lawyer and request a hearing with the state workers' comp board. The bottom line is this: employees who have become injured or sick as a result of their job should file for workers' comp to protect themselves, and if their claim is denied, they should fight the insurance company, with the help of a lawyer. Whether or not the employer believes that the worker is legitimately injured will turn out to be irrelevant, and the worker shouldn't worry about whether the employer holds the employee in contempt for filing a claim. It is the worker's right to have time off work and medical treatment paid for; the worker has given up the right to sue the employer in exchange for the workers' comp benefits and should not feel guilty about using them.
Saturday, May 18, 2019
I was injured at work in Connecticut. There was a witness. My contact at human resources assisted me with completing an incident report. I was on the clock and on the employer's premises when I was injured. Why won't the insurance company pay my benefits? Why am I waiting for medical treatment to be authorized? What appear to be the most frequently asked questions by injured workers immediately following a work injury become increasingly more difficult to answer as time moves on during the pendency of a claim. The Workers' Compensation Act has evolved a long way since its' inception in 1913. However, several themes remain true and stand the test of time. First, Connecticut's Workers' Compensation Act (the "Act") is meant to compensate the injured worker for their finanical loss and in particular - the weekly rate of pay that the employee lost as a result of the injury. If you are unable to perform any gainful employment as a result of the injury the Act protects against that loss. The inability to work must be substantiated by a physician. Once submitted, the employee gets paid her base compensation rate (a percentage of her average weekly rate) which happens to be non-taxable under the Act. Where is my check? Well, upon further review the insurance carrier's responsible adjuster is not volunarily paying until they hit a few items on their checklist. Wages verification from the employer. Obtain confirmation from the first call center as to loss of work capacity. Are there restrictions? Can the employer accomodate the injured employee's circumstances? Has the employee completed the proper forms to determine an average weekly wage or base compensation rate? Making matters more difficult, the injured worker's focus should be on getting better. The process of obtaining authorization for initial medical treatment from the responsible workers' compensation carrier can be an extremely difficult task especially for an individual and her family that did not expect to be thrust into difficult circumstances in an instant. Who is the carrier? Who is the adjuster? How difficult is it to get me a claim number? Why is this nurse calling me and why is he allowed to walk into my doctor's office with me? How come I have to go to this urgent call center so many times without getting a referral to a specialist physician? Another theme that stands the test of time is that the Act ensures the injured worker access to "reasonable and necessary" medical treatment. Again, this seems like an easy problem to solve. I'm hurt at work. Get me to a doctor. I have spent more time litigating an injured worker's right to proper care than I care to divulge. Why? It is costly. The process between physician office and responsible adjuster is cumbersome. The insurance carrier, much like the verifications made before making payment of lost earnings also needs to confirm several aspects of your medical picture before authorizing treatment. Has the injured worker signed the proper forms to obtain treatment? Was there a pre-existing injury or accident causing the need for treatment? Does the injured worker have private insurance to process the cost of medical treatment during our investigation? Has the doctor's office submitted the proper codes and documentation. Do you see the common theme here? Navigating your claim has become increasingly difficult given the delays involved from the onset with respect to payment of benefits and rendering of medical care. The cost of benefits and treatment to the carrier often drive the contest of any claim. Even in "accepted" claims, the carrier will often litigate matters of import throughout the course of the claim. Setting the tone early with the responsible workers' compensation carrier and claims adjuster when you have a serious work injury is important. Not every case necessitates the involvement of an attorney. However, it's extremely prudent to get the advice of one before the process gets out of hand.
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
This is the Location of the First District Worker’s Compensation Commission in Hartford. There are 8 District offices around the state and we appear in all of them. Which office handles your claim is a function of the location you were injured. Feel free to call with any questions about case venue.
Saturday, April 20, 2019
Sacroiliac joint Injuries Overview Sacroiliac (SI) joint pain is felt in the low back and buttocks. The pain is caused by damage or injury to the joint between the spine and hip. Sacroiliac pain can mimic other conditions, such as a herniated disc or hip problem. Accurate diagnosis is important to determine the source of pain. Physical therapy, stretching exercises, pain medication, and joint injections are used first to manage the symptoms. Surgery to fuse the joint and stop painful motion may be recommended. What is sacroiliac joint pain? The SI joints are located between the iliac bones and the sacrum, connecting the spine to the hips. The two joints provide support and stability, and play a major role in absorbing impact when walking and lifting. From the back, the SI joints are located below the waist where two dimples are visible. Sacroiliac joint anatomy Figure 1. The sacroiliac joints connect the base of the spine (sacrum) to the hip bones (ilium). Strong ligaments and muscles support the SI joints. There is a very small amount of motion in the joint for normal body flexibility. As we age our bones become arthritic and ligaments stiffen. When the cartilage wears down, the bones may rub together causing pain (Fig. 1). The SI joint is a synovial joint filled with fluid. This type of joint has free nerve endings that can cause chronic pain if the joint degenerates or does not move properly. Sacroiliac joint pain ranges from mild to severe depending on the extent and cause of injury. Acute SI joint pain occurs suddenly and usually heals within several days to weeks. Chronic SI joint pain persists for more than three months; it may be felt all the time or worsen with certain activities. Other terms for SI joint pain include: SI joint dysfunction, SI joint syndrome, SI joint strain and SI joint inflammation. What are the symptoms? The signs and symptoms of SI pain start in the lower back and buttock, and may radiate to the lower hip, groin or upper thigh. While the pain is usually one sided, it can occur on both sides. Patients may also experience numbness or tingling in the leg or a feeling of weakness in the leg. Symptoms may worsen with sitting, standing, sleeping, walking or climbing stairs. Often the SI joint is painful sitting or sleeping on the affected side. Some people have difficulty riding in a car or standing, sitting or walking too long. Pain can be worse with transitional movements (going from sit to stand), standing on one leg or climbing stairs. What are the causes? The SI joint can become painful when the ligaments become too loose or too tight. This can occur as the result of a fall, work injury, car accident, pregnancy and childbirth, or hip/spine surgery (laminectomy, lumbar fusion). Sacroiliac joint pain can occur when movement in the pelvis is not the same on both sides. Uneven movement may occur when one leg is longer or weaker than the other, or with arthritis in the hip or knee problems. Autoimmune diseases, such as ankylosingspondyloarthropathy, and biomechanical conditions, such as wearing a walking boot following foot/ankle surgery or non-supportive footwear, can lead to degenerative sacroiliitis. How is a diagnosis made? A medical exam will help determine whether the SI joint is the source of your pain. Evaluation includes a medical history and physical exam. Your physician will consider all the information you provided, including any history of injury, location of your pain, and problems standing or sleeping. There are specific tests to determine whether the SI joint is the source of pain. You may be asked to stand or move in different positions and point to where you feel pain. Your doctor may manipulate your joints or feel for tenderness over your SI joint. Imaging studies, such as X-ray, CT, or MRI, may be ordered to help in the diagnosis and to check for other spine and hip related problems. A diagnostic SI joint injection may be performed to confirm the cause of pain. The SI joint is injected with a local anesthetic and corticosteroid medication. The injection is given using X-ray fluoroscopy to ensure accurate needle placement in the SI joint. Your pain level is evaluated before and 20-30 minutes after injection, and monitored over the next week. Sacroiliac joint involvement is confirmed if your pain level decreases by more than 75%. If your pain level does not change after the injection, it is unlikely that the SI joint is the cause of your low back pain. What treatments are available? Nonsurgical treatments: Physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation, and stretching exercises help many patients. Some patients may require oral anti-inflammatory medications or topical patches, creams, salves or mechanical bracing. SI joint injection Figure 2. A needle is gently guided into the sacroiliac joint using x-ray fluoroscopy. An anesthetic and corticosteroid mixture (green) is injected into the inflamed joint. Joint injections: Steroids can reduce the swelling and inflammation of the nerves. Joint injections are a minimally invasive procedure that involves an injection of a corticosteroid and an analgesic-numbing agent into the painful joint (Fig. 2). While the results tend to be temporary, if the injections are helpful they can be repeated up to three times a year. Nerve ablations: Injections into joints or nerves are sometimes called “blocks.” Successful SI joint injections may indicate that you could benefit from radiofrequency ablation – a procedure that uses an electrical current to destroy the nerve fibers carrying pain signals in the joint. Surgery: If nonsurgical treatments and joint injections do not provide pain relief, your physician may recommend minimally invasive SI joint fusion surgery. Through a small incision, the surgeon places titanium (metal) implants and bone graft material to stabilize the joint and promote bone growth. The surgery takes about an hour. The patient may go home the same day or following day. For several weeks after surgery, the patient cannot bear full weight on the operated side and must use crutches for support. Sacroiliac joint fusion Figure 3. In a sacroiliac joint fusion, rod and/or screw devices are placed across the joint to stop painful motion. Recovery and prevention A positive attitude, regular activity, and a prompt return to work are all very important elements of recovery. If regular job duties cannot be performed initially, modified (light or restricted) duty may be prescribed for a limited time. Prevention is key to avoiding recurrence: Proper lifting techniques Good posture during sitting, standing, moving, and sleeping Regular exercise with stretching /strengthening An ergonomic work area Good nutrition, healthy weight, lean body mass Stress management and relaxation techniques No smoking Our office is well versed in SI joint injuries and can help you find appropriate treatment and receive compensation where appropriate. Call us anytime with any questions we can answer.