What Happens When The Caregiver Becomes The Patient?

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Delaware Workers’ Compensation Law

What Happens When The Caregiver Becomes The Patient?, The Women's Journal

By Heather A. Long, Esq.


Nurses, therapists, medical technicians and other healthcare workers put their own health on the line every day as they care for their patients.  In 2012, registered nurses and nursing assistants in Delaware had a combined total of 270 nonfatal work injuries that caused them to miss time from work.  During that same time, and measuring the same nonfatal work injuries, construction workers had only 70 work injuries

in comparison.

Normally, we don’t think of healthcare workers as being employed in a “dangerous occupation” but the Delaware Department of Labor statistics certainly suggest otherwise.  Some of the more common healthcare worker injuries are sprain and strain of the neck and back, rotator cuff injuries, needles sticks, assault by combative patients, concussions and slip and fall type injuries.  These injuries can be brought about by virtually any aspect of patient care, and just about every healthcare worker has sustained at least one, if not several, of these types of work injuries.

Healthcare workers are used to being the caregivers.  They often experience hesitation, anxiety and reluctance for allowing others to take care of them.  For that reason, many healthcare injuries go unreported, and the workers attempt to nurse themselves back to good health.  Sometimes that works, but oftentimes it does not.

As with every other aspect of healthcare, documentation is key.  Therefore, if you are injured (particularly as a healthcare worker) it is necessary to inform your supervisor and document the injury.  Ask your supervisor to fill out a “First Report of Injury” and give you a copy.  Also, make a note of any witnesses to your injury, and take pictures of any obvious bruising, cuts, scrapes or other outward signs of injury.  This is exactly the type of situation where an ounce of prevention can equal a pound of cure, because as all healthcare workers know- if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen!

Once your workers’ compensation injury has been accepted by
the insurance company, you may be entitled to benefits including medical expenses, wage replacement, mileage reimbursement, permanent impairment and disfigurement compensation.

If you are injured at work, particularly if you work in the healthcare field, immediate and accurate documentation regarding the injury you sustained and how it occurred is of utmost importance.
In order to make sure that your injury is properly documented,
I highly recommend:
1. That you inform your supervisor in writing about your injury;  and  2. You consult with an attorney to ensure that you will receive all the benefits to which you are entitled. I offer free consultations with no attorney’s fee to be paid until your case is settled.  This gives you the peace of mind you need in order to focus on the most important thing- your health.

1 Statistics taken from Delaware Department of Labor webpage: http://dia.delawareworks.com/safety-health-consultation/injury-illness-fatality-data.php.


Heather has been an attorney for over six years, and is currently practicing Workers’ Compensation and Personal Injury Law at Kimmel, Carter, Roman & Peltz, P.A. with offices in Newark and Wilmington. Heather worked her way through law school as a paralegal in a personal injury firm. After passing the bar exam, she spent several years working as a defense attorney, representing local, regional and national companies. With the knowledge gained about the inner-workings of these companies, she now represents injured workers and personal
injury plaintiffs.

Heather is a graduate of Widener University School of Law, and the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Prior to attending law school, she was licensed as a paramedic and spent time volunteering for her local ambulance corps. She is also active as a mock trial coach for Salesianum High School.


Heather is licensed to practice law in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, please call (302) 565-6132 or email her directly at [email protected].

What Happens When The Caregiver Becomes The Patient?, The Women's Journal