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Health care workers face constant danger on the job

Can you imagine what it would be like to go to work every day knowing the odds are high that you'll be threatened, sworn at or even physically assaulted during your shift?

That's exactly what it's like for America's health care workers. According to information gathered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) between 2002 and 2013, health care workers see four times as many serious incidents of violence than workers in any other industry.

When speaking of the problem, Cleveland Clinic's president and chief executive officer Tom Mihaljevic said that workplace violence among health care is a "national epidemic." Further, he stated that "Daily, literally daily, we're exposed to violent outbursts, in particular in our emergency rooms."

He knows what he's talking about. The Cleveland Clinic confiscated approximately 30,000 weapons from people in its system in 2018 alone. The weapons included everything from knives and razors to firearms.

There's no easy answer about why the problem is so bad -- or what to do about it. Many blame the nation's health care system itself, which can leave patients and their loved ones feeling frustrated and unheard. Others tie the violence into the opioid crisis and mental health problems that are largely untreated in many patients. Sometimes, the violence comes from patients who return to take out their anger over a previous visit.

Stopping the violence is also complicated. Metal detectors at the doorways of hospitals and clinics help -- but patients and visitors can also assault staff members with their bare hands. The hospitals and clinics have to strike a balance between keeping areas under observation to protect their staff members and making sure that patient privacy rights are protected.

If you're a health care worker who has been seriously injured on the job, you do have rights to workers' compensation. An attorney can work with you to make sure that you get the benefits you deserve to replace your lost income and get the medical care that you need.

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