A needlestick injury can have serious consequences for Chicago and greater Illinois healthcare workers. At Ankin Law, we understand these consequences and want to provide you with the information you need to know about what to do after a needlestick injury.
What Is a Needlestick Injury?
Needlestick injuries, also called sharps injuries, are a serious problem in Illinois for nurses and other healthcare providers. These injuries happen during the disposal, disassembling, or use of needles. They can cause serious physical, psychological, and financial harm. Estimates of how many of these injuries occur per year vary greatly, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that 600,000 to 800,000 needlestick injuries occur each year in the United States. Individuals who work with hypodermic syringes or similar equipment are at risk for a needlestick injury. Whether you are a nurse or a hospital who employs healthcare providers, the Chicago lawyers at the Ankin Law Office can get you the help you need to deal with the effects of needlestick injuries.
What to Do if You Get a Needlestick Injury
Your health is the most important concern here, so medical treatment is the first thing to worry about. Wash the puncture site with soap and water. Report the accident to your employer immediately. If your accident occurred in a hospital or clinical setting, find out the infection status of the patient whose blood you were exposed to. Get tested for diseases that are commonly transmitted through needlestick injuries, including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. Follow your physician’s advice for what medical follow-up you need after you’ve been tested. And, make sure to create some documentation of your own regarding the incident, because it could prove useful in a workers’ compensation claim.
Your Legal Rights After an Illinois Needlestick Injury
At Ankin Law, we understand that you have suffered physical and emotional effects of your needlestick injury. Needlestick injuries are workplace injuries, so you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits just like other injured employees. Workers’ compensation following a needlestick injury can include medical expenses, weekly lost wage benefits, lump sum settlements, lost wage differential, and, if necessary, permanent total disability. These benefits will be paid by your employer’s insurance company. There are time limits on filing an Illinois workers’ compensation claim, so contact us at Ankin Law right away to avoid losing out on benefits that you are entitled to receive.
Let your experienced attorney at Ankin Law know what steps your employer took (or didn’t take) to ensure workplace safety with needles. Ankin Law will explain the steps that will be involved in your workers’ compensation claim as well as your employer’s procedures for reporting and recording the accident.
The nature of needlestick injuries means that it can be difficult to demonstrate all the harm an injured healthcare worker has suffered, which in turn means it can be difficult to establish how much compensation you should receive following your injury. For example, some of the harm from a sharps injury is obvious, like the cost of medical treatment you receive after the injury. But there are other, less obvious costs, like lost wages from time off of work to receive medical treatment, follow-up testing for blood-borne diseases, and the emotional toll of the injury. This is why it’s important to hire the experienced needlestick attorneys of Ankin Law to represent you–you don’t want to lose out on benefits that are rightfully yours.
If you or a loved one in the Chicago, Illinois area has experienced a needlestick or sharps injury, do not hesitate to contact the experienced Chicago area lawyers of Ankin Law at (312) 667-3446 for a free consultation.
Is Your Employer Complying with Needlestick Injury Prevention Laws?
Every year, thousands of Chicago and Illinois healthcare workers suffer from needlestick injuries. Because of this nationally widespread problem, Congress has enacted a law which requires certain employers to implement workplace safety regulations. This law is called the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (NSPA). Unfortunately, employers don’t always comply with those regulations.
What should my employer be doing to keep me safe from needlestick injuries in the workplace?
Under the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act, your Illinois employer must:
- Establish (or update) a blood-borne pathogens exposure control plan. This is a plan that identifies jobs which give employees exposure to blood-borne pathogens and determines how to select safety controls for workers who have potential exposure to needlestick injuries. Your employer’s exposure control plan should be re-evaluated and updated as technology changes and better devices become available for protecting you.
- Evaluate and implement safer medical devices if effective. Safer medical devices might include needles with built-in sharps injury protection or needleless systems.
- Involve you, as a frontline healthcare worker, in the process for evaluating and selecting safer medical devices
- Continue to monitor the effectiveness of engineering controls
- Engage in certain types of employee training on preventing sharps injuries
Further, if you experience a needlestick injury, your employer may be required to report the injury. Your employer should be keeping a log of needlestick injuries that occur at work, which documents the brand and type of device involved in the injury and an explanation of how the injury occurred.
Employee training is an important part of needlestick injury prevention. Your employer is required to provide you training on avoiding blood-borne pathogen exposure, at no cost to you, on an annual basis.
If a Chicago, Illinois employer hasn’t complied with one or more of these requirements, they may be subject to a fine by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
At the Ankin Law Office, we realize that needlestick injuries are a serious problem for Illinois healthcare workers and we can help you understand your rights following a needlestick or sharps injury. If you or a loved one in the Chicago, Illinois area has experienced a needlestick or sharps injury, do not hesitate to contact the experienced Chicago needlestick lawyers of Ankin Law at (312) 667-3446 for a free consultation. We offer expert advice to clients throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Our clients come from counties including Cook, Lake, Will and DuPage.
Causes and Effects of Needlestick Injuries
Learning about when needlestick injuries are likely to occur for Illinois healthcare workers is crucial to protecting yourself. Sharps injuries are likely to happen in several different circumstances. Recapping of needles has been identified as a common source of injury, although this practice is now prohibited by OSHA unless absolutely necessary. Injuries also frequently occur when a healthcare worker passes a needle to another employee or when hollow bore or “butterfly” needles are used.
Each of these injuries comes at great cost. Nurses who experience needlestick injuries suffer from not only the physical effects that can accompany the puncture but also the risk of infection by bloodborne pathogens. In addition to the physical risks, needlestick injuries carry a high degree of emotional and psychological stress, since the injured employee might have to endure long-lasting uncertainty about whether the stick transmitted any disease. At Ankin Law, we understand the pain and confusion you are experiencing and will help you understand all your legal rights and options. We also understand that, beyond the physical and emotional harm, needlestick injuries cause financial harm from lost work time and medical treatment.
Work with an Illinois Needlestick Injury Lawyer
If you are a Chicago area healthcare worker and the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act applies to your employer, the Ankin Law Office can also help you understand what your employer’s legal obligations are to you under this law.
Both employees and employers should take action to combat needlestick injuries. Employees who work in an environment where there is the possibility of a needle stick should determine:
- what steps to take to prevent an injury, and
- what steps to take if an injury does occur.
Your employer, on the other hand, should learn:
- what the Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act requires of them, and
- what they can do to implement those requirements quickly and effectively.
If you or a loved one in the Chicago, Illinois area has experienced a needlestick or sharps injury, do not hesitate to contact the experienced Chicago area lawyers of Ankin Law at (312) 667-3446 for a free consultation. We represent clients throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, including Cook, Lake, Will and DuPage Counties.