Study: On-site rehab helps reduce lost work days in health care field
Reporting in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the researchers reported a decrease of lost work days of more than 50 percent, with the odds of returning to work within three weeks more than doubling. Of key importance, they said, was the inclusion of certified athletic trainers providing workplace-based rehabilitation.
Injuries and illnesses among health care workers is especially problematic, the authors noted. They quoted government statistics showing these workers sustained 7.7 injuries and illnesses for every 100 full-time employee in 2007 with 1.7 resulting days away from work.
"Lost workdays due to work-related injury can be a financial burden for both the employer and the employee," the study said. "Unnecessary time away from work also creates psychological issues and physical deconditioning."
Beginning in 2005, St. Mary's Duluth Clinic Health System in Minnesota implemented the internal employee health program, or IEHP. It included multiple tools into a contiguous program that would allow increased access, increased medical attention, greater communication, and awareness of job function and return-to-work options, along with a transitional work program. A key feature was athletic trainers offering workplace-based rehab at no charge.
In Minnesota, athletic trainers are registered through the board of medicine, providing physical medicine and rehabilitation under a physician-approved protocol. Their training focuses on musculoskeletal disorders and injury prevention.
For the study, the researchers examined workers' comp claims for hospital and clinical employees for two periods: the 23-month period preceding the implementation of the new program (period preceding) and the 23-month period following implementation. Specially, they analyzed data related to injury events sustained by employees.
"The IEHP implemented by the participating health care system, which utilized certified athletic trainers to offer workplace-based rehab at no charge, in conjunction with the initiation of a transitional work program for injured employees, reduced lost work days, with adjusted odds of returning to work following a work related injury event more than doubling by 3 weeks," the study said. "By four weeks, 54.7 percent of IEHP events had returned to work, compared with 35.7 percent of period preceding events. By six weeks, the difference had increased to 68 percent of IEHP events and 40.3 percent of period preceding events."
Read more at the WorkersComp
October 20, 2011
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