Tripped and fell working as a nurse in a transplant clinic...

by Kami
(California, North Hills)

It was just me and my other LVN working that day, we were one nurse short. I was rushing to get my next patient to do the vital signs before they could see our transplant clinic doctors. Due to rushing I ended up colliding with my co-nurse and tripped on her foot, got thrown out of balance and fell forward flat on the floor. I hit both my knees on the ground first, but was able to cover my face with my arms to prevent fracturing my nose and my face.

There were several people, nurses, patients, and doctors at that time who was trying to help me get up, but I was unable to get up right away because I was hurting and trying to feel if was safe for me to get up. After assessing myself and feeling like it was okay for me to move, I allowed one doctor to help me get up from the floor. One nurse from another dept helped me to go back to my table and gave me a cold pack to put on my knees. She asked me to elevate both my legs on the chair.

The director of nurses came by and offered me to go to our employee health area, but I refused and told her that we were so short and I couldn't leave my other co-nurse to do all the patients that we had that day alone. I declined her offer and just told her to give me a few minutes to rest.

In spite of the pain I was feeling I tried to go back to work like nothing happened. The reason I did that was because I was only working with the Transplant Clinic through the registry and was only temporary, working full time 5 days a week only since January 17 this year. I was trying to get a full time job with the hospital someday. I was afraid that if I told them the truth it would be 1 count against getting a job with them someday.

That afternoon after work, I went to see my personal doctor for my scheduled appointment. I told her the truth about what happened at work. She told me that she can't see me for workman's comp but she ordered an x-ray for my back that was hurting due to the accident. She did a minor check to see how bad I got hurt and advised me to see a workman's comp doctor instead.

I went back to work the following day but with excruciating back pain. I tried to keep taking Motrin but it was not helping at all. I tried calling the employment agency where I was working to see if I could see a doctor to help me with my pain. The agency told me that in order to see a doctor then they'd need to file a claim. They said I then wouldn't be allowed to work back at the hospital once I started the claim process. I asked them to just send me the application form.

I received the form, filled it out, and faxed it back to them, but I didn't hear back from them until the end of the day. The next morning I couldn't tolerate the pain anymore so I called in sick, telling the hospital that I was in so much pain. I went to see my personal doctor again just to ask for pain medication, but my doctor was not there that day so I just saw another MD instead. He gave me percocet and flexeril for the pain.

Now I don't know if I should go back and return to work in this condition or what. I don't know if I should be seeing the workers compensation doctor or keep seeing my personal doctor? I'm just confused and worried about my job. Thank you so much in advance for any information you can give!

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Tripped and fell working as a nurse in a transplant clinic...":

Kami (California, North Hills)

You are in obvious pain and discomfort. It's not your fault and you shouldn't feel guilty about it. Before you decide to go complete the application and start the claims process, it would be a good idea to find out if your injuries are "soft tissue" or more serious.

Soft tissue injuries are normally sprains, minor contusions, abrasions, and the like. You mentioned your private doctor had x-rays taken. It would be important to know what the x-rays revealed. If your doctor thought your injuries were more serious she probably would have ordered an MRI or a CT scan. Those diagnostic tools would reveal if you had herniated disks, spinal injuries and other more serious problems.

If you and your doctor believe the pain and discomfort is transient and will resolve in a matter of a few days, you might want to consider whether going through the claims process is worth the possibility of jeopardizing your chances of full-time employment.

Certainly your health comes first. Listen to your doctor. She'll tell you if you are suffering from a temporary problem, or one which will be long-term.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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