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How does Ebola affect a Work Comp claim?

With the recent outbreaks of Ebola in Western Africa, and now the United States, many people are worried about contracting this deadly disease. The likelihood of contracting Ebola on a plane or other public area is fairly low. However, medical professionals who have taken an oath to treat patients regardless of what condition they have, are at a higher risk than the rest of us. If a nurse or other medical professional were to contract the disease while working, they would be entitled to file a work comp claim. The Missouri work comp system allows for the recovery of missed time from work as well as for any permanent injury that should occur if a person contracts Ebola while on the job.

Does Missouri allow work comp claims if a medical professional contracts the disease at work?

In Missouri, work comp law states that a person injured at work may receive temporary total disability benefits if they are unable to work. Since Ebola patients are quarantined, the medical professional would not be able to perform their job duties for several months. All medical care connected to the treatment of the disease would be paid by the medical facility’s work comp insurance. The CDC says 1 in 2 people affected with Ebola will survive the disease with proper treatment.

What type of work comp claim would be filed?

Although the physical effects of Ebola may disappear in time, someone may be affected by the mental stress of having the disease for some time. A medical professional diagnosed with certain mental disorders following a diagnosis of Ebola could be entitled to a work comp claim for mental injury.

What happens if the worker dies?

The infected worker could also be at high risk for death. If it could be determined that the medical professional contracted Ebola while in the course and scope of their employment, and later died from the disease, their heirs would be entitled to file a work comp claim for the loss of their loved one. The benefits in a fatal work comp case may differ from those of a work injury, although medical care and temporary total disability benefits for the worker while living would be paid for by the employer.

Does health insurance cover treatment for Ebola?

In some instances, Ebola treatment may not be covered by group or private health insurance. An article by Reuters discusses the fact that many underwriters are scrambling to add Ebola exclusions into their policies. Filing a work comp claim for treatment of Ebola contracted while on the job might be the only way to get treatment without paying out of pocket.

What can a medical professional do to avoid contracting the disease?

With proper training, medical professionals can greatly reduce their exposure to Ebola. Wearing proper personal protective equipment and following procedures for disposing of bedding, clothing, needles/syringes, and other materials that may have an infected person’s bodily fluids present should be adhered to strictly. Ensuring that no skin is present while treating an Ebola patient and properly donning and doffing protective equipment is also imperative. If a medical professional follows the CDC guidelines in addition to these precautions, contracting Ebola and filing a work comp claim is unlikely.

It is the duty of the hospital or medical facility to provide the training needed to treat patients during an Ebola scare. It is also the duty of the medical professional to protect themselves in the best way possible. In the instance there is a failure on either’s part, Missouri work comp law will always protect the injured.

If you have questions about filing a work comp claim due to an injury on the job, call our firm today at 314-862-7222. You may also contact us using the form below.

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