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Can healthcare providers get workers’ comp for PTSD?

On Behalf of | Sep 3, 2021 | Workers' Compensation

The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on doctors, nurses and other front-line medical workers. Every day, they have faced an influx of desperate patients with COVID-19. The efforts to treat those patients – and prevent them from dying – have been extraordinary but hampered by the newness of the disease and lack of options.

Every day, healthcare workers watch people die of COVID-19 despite their best efforts. The patients just keep coming, overwhelming hospitals and their staff. All too often, they have watched as colleagues and co-workers were felled by the disease. They worried about their own safety and that of their families.

All this has led to significant trauma, some of it long-lasting. A growing number of healthcare providers report experiencing PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder – with symptoms ranging from anxiety and irritability to hypervigilance, intrusive thoughts, panic attacks and sudden bouts of crying.

The symptoms can be debilitating. Some workers have wondered whether they can continue to do their jobs. Some are considering switching careers.

Young professionals, burned-out veterans may be most at risk

According to a spring 2020 study, healthcare professionals who are just beginning their careers may be at greater risk for PTSD. This could be because they haven’t yet seen a normal day or had a sense of how much work and worry is expected from them. It could also be because they’re still learning how to treat intubated patients or others suffering from the pandemic.

At the same time, more senior professionals may also be at significant risk for PTSD. The study found that the mental disorder is especially common among providers who were already feeling burnt out. That could be a lot of people. An earlier survey found that about 42% of all physicians were experiencing burnout before the pandemic arrived.

Is PTSD covered by workers’ compensation?

Generally, yes, if the condition was caused by your work. Workers’ comp can provide medical care, disability and rehabilitation benefits for any kind of work-related illness or injury, regardless of whether your employer was at fault.

However, mental health claims are often denied initially. Proving that a mental health complaint is directly related to work can be challenging and requires significant evidence. It’s a good idea to work with an attorney if you’re trying to seek compensation for PTSD.