Healthcare Workers in Ohio Developmental Centers Are at Risk for Serious Injury

Ohio Developmental Centers healthcare workersThere's no doubt Ohio’s Developmental Centers (DCs) provide valuable services for children, teens, and adults with developmental disabilities. Operated by the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD), these eight centers across the state serve our neediest residents.

However, the professionals who staff these centers have some of the toughest jobs in the healthcare field. These workers not only face the common healthcare worker injuries but also additional challenges that can leave them badly hurt.

What Happens in Ohio’s Developmental Centers?

Throughout the state, including Columbus, Cambridge, Gallipolis, and Mount Vernon, the DODD employs nearly 2,000 workers in Developmental Centers. The goal of each DC is to provide comprehensive programs; medical, behavioral, and residential services; and “ensure each resident may experience a life of increasing capabilities and independence.” Staff members provide individualized care to each resident, meeting their personal needs and addressing behavioral concerns.

In 2017, 90 percent of new patients were admitted to an Ohio DC for behavioral reasons, and 20 percent of those also committed a crime. The doctors, nurses, attendants, behavior technicians, therapists, social workers, and direct support professionals who work with these patients experience hazards that healthcare workers in other settings rarely have.

Dangers Faced by Healthcare Workers in Ohio DCs

All healthcare workers are at risk of being injured on the job. The work is physically demanding and requires interaction with often unpredictable patients.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), hospitals are among the most dangerous places to work, with employees logging more “days away” from work due to injury or illness than professionals in construction, manufacturing, or private industry.

Ohio’s DCs are no exception. While statistics on injury rates aren't available, workers in these Centers may face even more challenges than in mainstream hospitals due to the difficulty of the patient population.

DC workers risk these injuries and illnesses:

  • Overexertion and overuse injuries. Across the healthcare field, strains, sprains, and other musculoskeletal injuries caused by overexertion are the most common injuries sustained by workers. Lifting or restraining patients, bending and reaching for objects, and standing for extended periods of time lead to back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, painful joint damage, chronic shoulder pain, and other conditions. Because of their behavioral issues, residents in DCs often require even more physical handling and restraint than patients in hospitals.
  • Slips, trips, and falls. Healthcare professionals suffer slip and fall injuries rushing to attend to emergencies or encountering obstacles or spills on floors. Injuries include broken bones, sprains, bruises, and worse. Working with a challenging population, such as in a DC, can increase the chance of fall injuries, as fast action is often needed to prevent escalation of negative behavior.
  • Exposure to harmful substances. Whether administering powerful drugs or handling a patient with an infectious disease, nurses and attendants risk being exposed to materials that can cause illness. Patients with developmental disabilities are less able to care for themselves and may be more likely to expose caregivers to infection or disease.
  • Violence. Of utmost concern in an Ohio DC, being attacked by a resident can lead to serious injury. Residents with developmental disabilities are more likely to lash out, resist restraint, and have a violent outburst.  Any employee who interacts with patients in a DC is at risk of being the victim of an assault. As with any violent encounter, the injuries vary from cuts and bruises to traumatic brain injury.

Regardless of the cause of your workplace injury, as an employee of the DODD, you're covered by Ohio worker’s compensation benefits.

How Monast Law Office Can Help

If you suffer an injury and cannot work, you're entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical bills and lost wages. If you encounter any difficulty when reporting your injury or filing your claim, call me right away at the Monast Law Office. I help other employees of Ohio’s Developmental Centers, and I can help you, too.

Learn more about workers’ comp in Ohio by downloading my free book and calling to discuss your case with me. My staff and I can help get the workers’ comp benefits you deserve.

James Monast
Fighting for Ohio’s Injured Workers and their Families