Are you still taking workers to the ER?

EREmergency rooms are for emergencies. A worker who experiences a life-threatening injury needs to go to the emergency room.  The problem is that too many companies consider the emergency room as their first option.  Research shows companies may not be getting their employees the right level of care and it carries a tremendous cost.

According to a study by the New England Healthcare Institute,  overuse of emergency room visits costs Americans  $38 billion a year.    The study found that more than 50 percent of all emergency room visits area avoidable.

When you look at workplace injuries, the number may be even higher.   According to Dr. Bradley Kenny, who specializes in occupational healthcare, “75 percent of all work-related injuries that go to the emergency room are non-emergencies.”

And there are indications that emergency room visits don’t offer advantages to workers.  A study by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) found that the median wait for patients was a shocking 4.5 hours.  That is four-and-a-half-hours for a worker to be in pain, frustrated and, ultimately, angry about their care.   So companies are wasting millions or even billions of dollars to almost guarantee that workers have a bad experience.

So what should companies do?   The two biggest solutions appear to be appropriate use of telemedicine to put workers on the phone with trained medical personnel who can do a preliminary assessment of the level of care that is necessary.  That was one of the findings of the New England Healthcare Institute study.   The second is to understand the capabilities of nearby occupational clinics.  It is important to work with staff who can provide the appropriate levels of treatment and also understand the nuances of the OSHA recordkeeping rules.

CORE Health Networks has built its integrated approach to occupational health around those two principals.  CORE has build relationships with more than 1300 clinics around the country to help serve clients anywhere their crews are working.  Through its Time-Zero intervention and case management, CORE puts RNs with experience in injury care, OSHA recordkeeping and workers comp laws into immediate communication with workers and supervisors to make sure they receive the right treatment at the right time.    The emergency room will still be there for emergencies, but there is no reason to use them unnecessarily.

For more information on CORE’s services email me at kwells@corehealthnet.com.

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