There are some calls we get from injured Illinois workers where I can guess the injury before they tell me what happened. One such situation involves home healthcare workers.
These nursing specialists do incredible work. They provide convenient care in the patient’s home doing a wide variety of services such as bathing, administering medicine, wound care, therapy, and more.
One very common task involves lifting patients or helping them up. In fact, it’s a part of the job that almost every one of these home health aides has to do. So when someone calls me and tells me that they were hurt providing home health care, I can usually guess correctly that they have a back injury.
The typical situation involves having to hold all of the weight of their patient who doesn’t have great balance or falls into them. What we usually see is that the nurse ends up holding more weight than they should so their client doesn’t get hurt. Whether it’s immediate or at the end of the day, back pain appears and in some cases can result in a really serious injury.
This was the case of a Chicago home health care worker who called me recently. She hurt her back lifting a patient and eventually was diagnosed with a herniated disc. She went through physical therapy and epidural steroid injections and now is released with a permanent 30-pound lifting restriction.
Her agency employer has put her back to work in the home of a new client. The problem is that even though she’s not supposed to lift more than 30 pounds, those types of restrictions are impossible to follow.
I say that because when you do this job, you are on your own. If your patient stands up and is about to fall, you have to catch them. If they need help getting up off the toilet or out of the bath, you have to do it. You can’t avoid lifting.
And this was the problem my caller faced. Her agency was essentially ignoring her restrictions by placing her back in the home of someone who had a hard time getting around. They could have put her in a pediatric home health situation or with a patient who was more ambulatory. The problem is that those types of assignments are not as common. They didn’t want to pay her to stay at home while they found work for her, so they instead endangered her long-term health by placing her in a home with a patient that needed a lot of help.
They also of course put the patient’s health at risk and quite honestly could risk a lawsuit as a result.
The good news is that we can make them follow the work-related restrictions in most cases. Because most of these nurses work for an agency and don’t have regular face-to-face contact with their employer, they tend to get treated less than human. Illinois workers’ compensation laws protect you when you are injured on the job and are meant for situations just like this.
If you would like a free consultation to see what your rights are and how an experienced lawyer can help you, please call us any time at 312-346-5578.