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Can health care providers file claims for post-traumatic stress?

The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone. It’s been difficult for those who’ve contracted the disease and the health care providers who’ve dedicated their work and lives to address it.

To say that being a health care provider during the onset of COVID-19 was stressful is an understatement. Doctors, nurses, medical lab technicians, the employees of pharmacies and health departments and other similar professionals were pushed beyond their limits as they responded to rising infection cases. There was also the mental anguish these professionals had to deal with related to the many lives lost to COVID-19.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise again, there are concerns that many more would die from the disease, and these deaths would continue to weigh heavily on the minds of health care providers. Fortunately, Connecticut allows providers to file for workers’ compensation benefits for any post-traumatic stress injuries they sustain.

Eligibility for benefits

For a health care provider to qualify for compensation for post-traumatic stress injuries, a mental health professional must diagnose the provider with injuries resulting from a qualifying event. This also means that the post-traumatic stress injury shouldn’t result from any disciplinary action, demotion, job transfer, or termination of the provider.

Qualifying events

Connecticut statutes explain that a qualifying event for a health care professional’s post-traumatic stress injury claim should’ve occurred out of and during their employment on or after March 10, 2020. This was when the state announced a public health and civil emergency in response to COVID-19.

The events qualified as causes for post-traumatic stress injury include:

  • The provider witnesses the death of a person due to COVID-19.
  • The provider witnesses an injury to a person who subsequently dies of COVID-19.
  • The provider had contact with or was responsible for treating and caring for a person who died of COVID-19.
  • The provider witnessed a traumatic physical injury resulting in a patient losing a vital body function due to COVID-19.

The rules also apply to events where the patient died from symptoms later diagnosed as COVID-19.

Compensation for treatment

If a health care provider can prove that they’ve suffered a post-traumatic stress injury, workers’ compensation can cover treatment for the mental injury. Compensation can cover any combination of prescribed medication or treatment by a psychiatrist or psychologist. It can also pay for temporary partial or total incapacity benefits for 52 weeks.

Claims can still be contested

But even if a health care provider has a strong claim for post-traumatic stress injury, their employer can still dispute their liability to compensation. The employer must file a notice of contest with the state Workers’ Compensation Commission within 28 days of the employee’s claim.

To summarize, health care providers can file workers compensation claims for post-traumatic stress injuries related to COVID-19. However, their employers can still contest the claim, forcing a hearing with the state’s Workers’ Compensation Commission. If this happens, providers might want to consider legal counsel so they have a helpful guide to the complicated hearing process.