Missouri healthcare workers are exposed to a variety of health risks, including exposure to contagious diseases.
The dangers of contagious diseases made headlines during the Ebola scare in 2014. Healthcare workers are exposed to a variety of health risks, including exposure to contagious diseases. Whether or not contagious disease is covered under workers’ compensation will depend on the nature of the work. Various healthcare professionals including ambulance personnel, emergency medical technicians, and emergency room and hospital staff became susceptible to this deadly contagious disease, and the risk was particularly real for anyone who had visited Africa or had come in contact with patients suffering from this infection.
Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Even though the Ebola scare has passed, it has raised an important issue concerning the safety of workers who are exposed to the risk of contracting contagious diseases at the workplace. There have been numerous queries concerning workers’ compensation eligibility for a worker who contracts a contagious disease at work, particularly those requiring a prolonged absence from work. In order to determine whether or not an illness is covered under workers’ compensation, two factors are considered:
- The illness or medical condition was acquired in the course and scope of work. If the illness was acquired at the workplace, for example, while working with patients or in a facility that treated patients, the illness may be covered.
- The illness is the result of conditions that are specific to the work the employee performs. If the disease is contracted because of the nature of the workplace, the employee may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Responsibilities of the Employer
Work-related diseases are difficult to manage because of the grey areas and complicated requirements. The Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to provide a safe workplace to workers. If a worker informs their employer of a disease, the employer is forbidden to divulge any patient specific information. It becomes important that an employer does everything in their capacity to prevent the transmission of a contagious disease and to obtain proper medical care for an infected employee.
Some cases of workers’ compensation involving contagious diseases becomes even more complicated, because the transmission of disease occurs because of the negligence or wrong doing on the part of the hospital. The negligence must be proved in court and only a court can decide whether or not there was negligence on the part of the hospital.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If a contagious disease was contracted at the workplace, because of unavoidable contact with patients or co-workers, an infected employee may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. However, it is in the best interest of the employee to have the case evaluated by an experienced Missouri workers’ compensation attorney.