psychiatric nurse injuryPsychiatric hospitals and mental health facilities can be potentially dangerous work environments. The nurses, caretakers, and other staff are at high risk for work-related injuries from slip and falls, lifting and moving patients, and patient attacks.

Staffing numbers in these facilities are growing increasingly inadequate and staff are often expected to look over more patients than they can responsibly manage. Caretakers can become overly tired and stressed from working too hard. This can lead to circumstances that foster injuries and mistakes. Security guards to prevent patient attacks are often lacking as well.

Common Injuries Suffered by Psychiatric and Mental Health Staff

While mental health facility staff may suffer a variety of work-related injuries, the most common are caused by patient attacks. According the The New York Times, dozens of patient attacks occur at psychiatric hospitals across the country on a daily basis. This is considered to be somewhat of an epidemic as violent and even criminally insane patients are given a surprising amount of freedom. Extended contact and close proximity make workers a prime target of this violence. Other common causes of injuries include:

  • Back strain from lifting and moving patients
  • Injury from slip and falls
  • Attacks by irrational or medicated patients
  • Bodily injury from restraining patients
  • Stress and exhaustion from being overworked


What to do if You are Injured While Working at a Psychiatric Hospital or Mental Health Facility

Follow the posted protocol and policy for reporting workplace injuries. This will become useful if you choose to pursue workers’ compensation benefits. It is a good idea to report attacks or other incidents to a supervisor even if there is no immediate injury. If a gradual or repetitive stress injury were to develop, it will be important to have this on file.

Reporting an injury or incident may involve extra paperwork and consume limited time. However, it is important to do so in order to look after your health. While you may be in this field because you want to help others, remember the importance of your own well-being. You can not adequately care for others if you are not in quality health.

You may be discouraged to file a report by your employer. Though it may be difficult, it is in your best interests to follow protocol even without their support. Reporting the injury is the first step in the workers’ compensation process. If the injury causes you to become unable to work for a period of time, you will be happy that you started the process though it was not easy. The possible compensation for medical expenses and lost wages will be well worth it.

On the other hand, maybe you are discouraging yourself from reporting the incident because you feel guilty or don’t want to be a bother. Remember that your rights and your health matter too. Don’t accept your injury as “just another part of the job” or blame yourself for not looking after the patient properly. Even if you contributed in some way to the incident that caused your injury, you may still be eligible for compensation.

After reporting the incident, seek appropriate medical care and supportive counseling if needed. Assaults, especially violent ones, can have extended physical and psychological impacts if not tended to in a timely manner. The next step is to contact a skilled and experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

A New Jersey Lawyer Can Help You Win Your Workers’ Compensation Case

Injured mental health workers are most likely unable to file a personal lawsuit against a patient in the case of an attack. The psychiatric diagnosis will probably prevent any such lawsuit from succeeding. However, they may be able to file a claim under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation law. This law may entitle victims of work-related injuries to monetary benefits for medical costs and lost wages.

If you have suffered a patient attack or other work-related injury, contact an attorney to find out if you qualify for benefits. The Hayes Firm can connect you with a local, skilled lawyer completely for free. Contact us today and we will review your case as soon as possible. If we determine that you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, we will get you in touch with an attorney near you free of charge. All of the lawyers in our network are experienced and knowledgeable of New Jersey workers’ compensation laws.

If you do qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, a lawyer will work hard to win you a fair amount. They will investigate, gather evidence, and contact witnesses to develop a solid case. Although you want to believe that your employer will always be in your side, their insurance company may not be. A skilled attorney will be experienced in dealing with tricky insurance companies and knowledgeable of their tactics. Let a professional take care of the details of your workers’ compensation case while you focus on what matters most: making a full and healthy recovery.

Psychiatric Hospitals and Mental Health Facilities in New Jersey

There are several mental health facilities in New Jersey, some operated by the state and others privately owned.  Many of these hospitals are known specifically to house criminally insane patients and patients that pose a danger to themselves or others. If you are injured while working at any of the following (or any other) mental health facilities in New Jersey, you may be entitled to compensation.

  • Ann Klein Forensic Center in West Trenton
  • Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in Hammonton
  • Hampton Behavioral Health Center in Westampton
  • Princeton House Behavioral Health in Princeton
  • Summit Oaks Hospital in Summit
  • Trenton Psychiatric Hospital in Trenton

 *Image Attribution – “Staff Nurse Andrea writing up her notes” by goodcatmum – originally posted to Flickr as Staff Nurse Andrea writing up her notes.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –