DC Nurse Overcomes Serious Shoulder Injury Caused by Patient

A nurse at a D.C. pediatric hospital loved her job working in the ER and helping children.  It was a physical, demanding, high stress job that she thrived on and made a difference in patients' lives every single day.  A dream job.

The hospital's lack of security changed all that.

Trying to help an unrestrained, young adult psych patient on an understaffed nursing unit, the patient pulled the nurse's shoulder back, awkwardly and violently.  At first doctors thought it was a rotator cuff tear, something that could be addressed through arthroscopic surgery after it didn't get better.  The surgery and the rounds of injections and physical therapy didn't help and the shoulder became painful and difficult to use.  Most doctors thought it was a brachial plexus injury.

The hospital said the problems she was having weren't related to her work injury.  We took that to a D.C. workers comp hearing and won that case (our nurse did a great job testifying).

After searching out specialists for a condition that was getting worse, she was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome and a specialist recommended surgery. Again, the hospital didn't want to pay for the surgery.  Their doctor, hired just for the litigation, said the nurse had chronic regional pain syndrome instead, and wouldn't benefit from surgery.

We took that issue to a hearing and won again.  The hospital was forced to pay for the specialized surgery.  And the surgery was successful (although would have been more so if the hospital hadn't delayed) but the nurse still suffers the effects of the nerve injury - pain and lack of mobility.

She is back to work at a different facility where she does some patient care but not the physically demanding type of ER care.  

The moral of this work injury story - don't give up.  Our nurse was persistent in getting the medical care and treatment she needed and her employer put her through hell on this case - we had to litigate and win her case twice on two important issues because they didn't believe her.

Unfortunately, we see a lot of hospitals treat their nurses, doctors and staff this way when they get hurt at work.

Confidential