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Long EMS shifts linked to higher injury and illness rates

Pennsylvania residents are likely aware that emergency medical services personnel often perform their difficult duties under great pressure. They are sometimes called upon to treat accident victims as firefighters extinguish vehicle blazes and law enforcement officers redirect heavy traffic nearby, and this can lead to physical and mental exhaustion as well as injuries. A study published on Sept. 14 in a peer-reviewed journal reveals that paramedics sometimes work shifts lasting as long as 24 hours, and their risks of developing a work-related illness or suffering a workplace injury increase the longer they are expected to work.

The researchers behind the study examined the shift schedules of 4,000 emergency medical services workers over a three-year period as well as 950 health records from several leading EMS providers, and they found that illness and injury rates increased by 50 percent when work shifts stretched beyond 12 hours. Researchers took the time of day and the way that EMS teams worked into consideration when compiling their findings.

The researchers acknowledged that their findings do not conclusively prove that longer shifts cause more injuries, but they said that their findings were compelling enough to warrant further studies being undertaken. They also said that more work was called for because EMS workers were sometimes expected to work shifts lasting as long as 24 hours.

A workplace accident can cause severe financial hardship for injured Pennsylvania workers as their medical bills mount while they are unable to earn a paycheck, and the state's workers' compensation program is designed to provide them with assistance during this difficult time. However, the claims process can be confusing, and paperwork errors could lead to injured workers not receiving all of the benefits that they may be entitled to. An experienced workers' compensation attorney could explain the various benefits available and provide assistance to those filing a claim.

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