The Future of Nursing and Disability Claims
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing was already one of the most sought after professions in the United States, and in 2019 ranked as the third-most in-demand of any job.
Unfortunately, the profession faces some hurdles which might indicate trends in new and mounting disability claims. As seasoned nurses continue to age and populations rise, the demand could outweigh the talent supply. If the gap between open positions and nursing school graduates is not bridged, it could set a precedent for an overworked and understaffed workforce susceptible to more physical, medical and mental disability claims.
During National Nurses Month in May 2021, Nurse Journal addressed the U.S. nursing shortage. Findings showed that in a country of 328,055,000, there were 3,956,080 total nurses, equating to 12.06 nurses per 1,000 people. Though the State of California ranked the most populous of all (39,512,000 in 2019), it had the third-lowest number of nurses per 1,000 (9.25).
Furthermore, nursing school enrollment is not growing fast enough to meet the projected demand for registered nurses (RN) and advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) services. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported a 5.1% enrollment increase in entry-level baccalaureate programs in nursing in 2019; however, the association expects this increase is not sufficient enough to meet the projected demand for nursing services, including the need for more nurse faculty, researchers, and primary care providers.
The full impact of COVID-19 on the profession’s headcount is still being studied. In October 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that nurses comprised the most hospitalized healthcare workers; 13% of nurses reported becoming infected with COVID, nearly half had to self-isolate at one point and nearly 20% lived in hospital-provided temporary housing.
Tragically, some health care facilities across the state continue to put nurses and their patients at risk of exposure and infection to the virus.
Long Haul Symptoms and the Outlook
Over the course of delivering quality patient care, nurses have experienced physical and mental “long haul” symptoms that are causing a surge in long-term disability claims.
Long haulers are the people who continued to suffer from physical, cognitive or mental nervous symptoms weeks or months after their initial COVID diagnosis. These lingering and debilitating symptoms can restrict and limit their ability to perform their occupations either full or part-time.
The most commonly reported long-term symptoms are fatigue, muscle weakness, difficulty sleeping, new or increased bouts of anxiety and depression, shortness of breath, and cognitive dysfunction.
The physical challenges are easier to identify and prove to an insurance company, such as an inability to ascend hospital stairs without getting winded or needing both hands to bring a cup of water to your mouth. Cognitive testing objectifies decreased focus and concentration that can affect patients as well.
Depression and mental illness are a bit more intricate. Though depression and symptoms like post-traumatic stress disorder can bring someone’s ability to work to a grinding halt, the condition is largely an internal illness. Unfortunately, it is a challenge to show and prove an ailment that is, in theory, “invisible.” The American Psychiatric Association’s Center Workplace for Mental Health notes that depression is diagnosed if a person experiences symptoms for more than two weeks. Like most other health conditions, early detection and effective treatment lessen the severity and impact and can help you recover quicker.
It is also important to note that “burnout” is not a medical condition, but could be an indicator of other mental illnesses. It can also signal employment patterns. In a 2018 study of more than 50,000 nurses, 31.5% who left their employer cited burnout as the key reason. Future studies may further reveal a correlation between long haul symptoms and employment trends among the nursing profession.
Though the vaccine rollout in the U.S. is proving effective, new variant strains continually emerge and other natural and man-made disasters can put increased pressure on an already stressed and thinning group of essential nursing staff. It is very likely that all these factors could be a “perfect storm” that leads to more injured nursing professionals who cannot return to work and be forced to file long-term disability claims. With a talent shortage already being reported, the profession and many healthcare systems could be severely disrupted if quality patient care is not extended to nurses and healthcare workers on the front line.
Nurses, Hire a Long-Term Disability Lawyer to File Your Disability Claim and Get Paid
Every short- and long-term individual and group disability insurance policy contains a definition of what it means for a worker to be disabled and what is required to be eligible for monthly disability benefits. An experienced disability lawyer can review your insurance policy to see if a covered injury, illness, or symptoms might allow benefits.
If you suffer from any type of mental or physical injury or illness that prevents you from performing the important duties of your occupation, call us today at (866) 270-3770 or contact DarrasLaw online.