The Power of Knowledgeable Early Intervention in Workers’ Compensation
Susan, a teacher’s aide employed by a California School District, was supervising recess on the school playground when a student accidentally collided with her. As a result, she suffered trauma to the left side of her head. Following her employer’s protocol, she called Company Nurse Injury Hotline to report the incident complaining of a bump and headache. On this day, Helen, an Injury Care Coordinator, responded to Susan’s call. As she listened and asked questions, Helen realized that Susan didn’t understand the urgency and potential risks involved with head injuries; she simply wanted to report the incident and seek care later. Confident with her experience and knowledge, Helen convinced Susan that speaking with a triage nurse was imperative and that it would not be a long process. As a result, Susan spoke with a nurse and was referred to care on the day of injury.
Early Intervention Builds Confidence
This story is notable because it reveals how effective early intervention can instill confidence in an injured employee that they are being led on the right path. Unnecessary obstacles and frustration often come along with these incidents when they are not handled appropriately. For example, Susan did not realize the potential of her head injury being much more serious than she considered it to be, and that seeking the advice of qualified professionals could save her from further medical complications. She was more focused on her professional obligations and time constraints than on taking the appropriate measures for her injury. With compassion and understanding, Helen responded to her unique situation, relating to Susan not only as a professional but also as an injured person in need of care.
To the benefit of the organization, implementation of professionals at the front end of a claim relieves the employer and supervisors of guessing what the appropriate level of care might be for the injured worker. This early intervention and medical advice could eliminate unexpected medical costs down the road. A study run by Workers Compensation Research Institute, WCRI, showed that “cases with significant and moderate surprises represented about 30 percent to 40 percent of medical costs in most states”. The same study revealed that some states surpassed this average, such as California where these cases represented 57 percent of medical costs. If an injury is addressed the day it occurs, the possibility of cases resulting in the accrual of unnecessary medical costs decreases dramatically. There is confidence in the process and reassurance in knowing that the injury will be handled in a cost-effective manner that is beneficial to the well-being of the employee.
The Power of Knowledgeable Early Intervention Paves the Way for Effective Cost Management and Employee Satisfaction
As Helen demonstrated, one of the most important components of early intervention is to listen carefully to the nature of each injury and focus on the employee’s unique medical needs. This enabled her to provide an immediate and compassionate response that quite possibly prevented future complications with Susan’s health. At the same time, Susan’s employer was able to avoid potential medical costs. Balancing the business needs of organizations with the well-being of their workers is the ultimate goal of a nurse triage injury hotline; it is the power of knowledgeable early intervention that paves the way for effective cost management and employee satisfaction.
“W.C. Cases with Significant Unanticipated Medical Care and Costs Reviewed in New WCRI Study of Adverse Surprises”.
WCRI Media Releases. June 30, 2005. Web. May 21, 2011. http://www.wcrinet.org/media_release_adverse_surprises.html.