~ Guest Post by Alan Brady
Patients are not the only ones who suffer from malpractice at medical facilities. Too often medical assistants encounter an injury while performing their daily duties and do not report it. A “medical assistant” can mean one of many different professions such as nurse, pediatrician’s assistant, assisted caregiver, or even massage therapist. Every one of these professions requires handling of potentially dangerous equipment and/or performing dangerous procedures.
It is important that if an injury is suffered during the course of performing these duties it is reported and treated immediately. If you don’t feel you have received the proper treatment or if the injury occurred as a result of a hazard on the job, a helpful labor lawyer can help you find ways to make your environment safer, more manageable, and if necessary, help you get compensation.
Here is a list of typical duties performed by a medical assistant that could potentially result in injury or contracting a disease:
- Collecting blood or tissue samples for routine lab tests
- Changing dressings and bandages
- Operating and carrying heavy loads of medical equipment
- Disposal of used materials
- Assisting patients in movement or transport
- Assisting in surgery
While there are proper methods of carrying out these procedures that are designed to keep both patients and caregivers safe, accidents sometimes happen. In such situations proper care must both be given AND documented fully.
A particularly troubling story of interest is a nurse who received compensation in May of 2012 for a series medical negligence issues that led to her having a finger amputated. Claire Heywood, a forty-six year-old nurse was in A&E (Accident and Emergency) after she reported her finger getting cut on a broken piece of glass and the staff simply bandaged her up and told her it was not serious. The cut on her finger would turn out to be a severed tendon. While Heywood claimed there was a serious problem, her voice went ignored and she was referred to a physiotherapist instead of a hand surgeon. Had an x-ray been taken, or had she been examined more thoroughly, she wouldn’t have had to wait nine months after the injury to have the necessary surgery to repair her tendon.
Injuries like these can be all too common in the medical field as there are so many hazards in medical facilities. Furthermore, a facility may not want to assume liability in potentially expensive or reputation damaging lawsuits. In addition, medical assistants generally want to garner favor by doing an excellent job and discuss any injuries that happen at work with only their superiors. However, sometimes the best choice is to consult outside resources for treatment. Even seemingly minor injuries, such as small cuts, wrist pain, or back pain could grow into something potentially more harmful. Such injuries caused by workplace accidents must be recognized and treated early on.
Actions to Take if You, as a Medical Assistant, Feel You Have Been Misdiagnosed
1. Consult Another Doctor or Appropriate Professional
If you have pain or symptoms of injury don’t settle for someone telling you it is not serious. Seek appropriate care and make sure the injury cannot be made worse by your daily duties or affect your performance.
2. Keep Track of Every Test or and Treatment You Receive
Always keep track of what steps have been taken to care for your problem. They will serve to determine whether or not the injury happened at work and to prove what medical care you did or did not receive.
3. If the Condition Is Beyond Repair, Consult a Lawyer
If a work injury affects your ability to work and thus your livelihood, talk to an injury attorney and present them with your records of documented treatment. It is very important that you talk to an attorney sooner rather than later because the statutes of limitations on personal injury vary. In some states you may be too late to seek damages if you wait. That window of opportunity starts at the time of your injury. However, if you are seeking legal help for an injury that was caused by a prior, smaller injury that went untreated, it can be difficult to identify the original cause of the injury. Thus, it is highly important to not delay: get proper medical care quickly and seek legal help to get the compensation you deserve.
Alan Brady is a writer who specializes in legal practices regarding negligence in healthcare. He writes for attorneys.com, a site dedicated to legally helping victims of negligent healthcare and malpractice.