Accidents or assaults on staff in the care industry – Case study

18 Aug 2017

“Cookson and Buckley’s analysis of the British Crime Survey (2010/2011) found that health and social welfare associate professionals have a relatively high risk of assault or threat at work… compared with other types of work…”

While it’s reasonable to say that most individuals in the care industry will encounter violence in their work at some point, it can be difficult to build evidence to support this given the circumstances under which they work – especially when the resultant injury has an impact on their life that seems, on paper, incongruous given the relatively minor incident. The claimant in this case study is a female Clinical Support Worker at a local Hospital. When attempting to prevent a male patient from leaving the ward, by closing the door, the patient became aggressive towards her and punched her in her left hand. He then knocked her into a wall causing injuries to her arm, shoulder, and neck. The claimant was later informed that the patient who assaulted her was a violent risk, something she wasn’t aware of prior to the incident.  

While x-rays showed no abnormalities, this claimant experienced severe ongoing pain in her left hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder. Significant to this case is that the claimant showed no evidence of swelling or deformity. There was, however, evidence from a CT scan of a soft tissue injury. Ongoing treatment from a Physiotherapist attested to a limited range of motion but also suggested the possibility of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). CRPS is a chronic neuropathic pain condition that is extremely difficult to diagnose given its subjective nature. Diagnosis is largely through a process of elimination and a thorough examination by a consultant in Pain Medicine who specialises in diagnosing and treating CRPS is vital.

In this case, the Pain Medicine Expert who specialized in chronic pain conditions was able to determine a diagnosis and recommend the necessary and ongoing treatment that the claimant would require over the remainder of her life.

 

Treatments included:

  • Hydrotherapy
  • Education and advice
  • Acupuncture
  • Mirror therapy
  • Desensitisation 

 

The Pain Medicine specialist also established that she would require ongoing treatment from a pain specialist and a psychiatrist.

It is vital that a relevant expert is able to bring insight to bear on a case that may otherwise be overlooked as psychosomatic and result in little to no compensation for claimants in the care industry.