Workers’ Compensation: Employee Injured in Car Crash while on Call Is Eligible, Court Says

August 1, 2013 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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​The Tennessee Supreme Court determined that a full-time surgical technician who worked both a regular schedule and on-call rotating shifts and was severely injured in a car accident while returning home from the hospital while still on call is eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits. The hospital denied compensability, claiming that the employee was not injured in the scope and course of her employment. The employee lost 37 weeks of work as a result of injuries, which required three separate surgical procedures to her leg, as well as a splenectomy.

The employee's on-call shifts were subject to work rules that required, among other things, that she stay within 30 minutes' travel time of the emergency department, carry a pager, refrain from drinking alcohol while on call, and otherwise remain alert and able to perform the duties of her job. On the day of her accident, the employee had finished a regular shift, immediately clocked in for on-call duty, and went to the operating room. After the surgery, she clocked out again, drove home, and was subsequently summoned for a second on-call shift. She returned to the hospital, assisted in surgery, and clocked out. While driving home at 2:36 a.m., her car was hit by another driver who crossed her lane of traffic. After recuperating from her injuries, the plaintiff walked with a limp and obtained part-time work at a pharmacy independent of the hospital. After exhausting her administrative remedies, a trial court found the plaintiff...

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