Transforming the Work Injury Experience
On any given day, school nurses have a lot on their plate as they deal with student injuries and illnesses, including the unique care of special needs students. Because they are the on-site campus medical professionals, school nurses are sometimes required to take care of employee work injury cases. This is not optimal because a work injury is a medical-legal event that may entail assessment and expertise beyond the scope of practice and personal clinical competence of the school health professional. The addition of a Workers’ Compensation Nurse Triage Hotline facilitates a healthy relationship between school nurse and triage nurse that helps alleviate concerns that come along with unfamiliar territory while increasing efficiency in reporting and substantially reducing workers’ compensation costs.
The collaboration between the on-site school nurse and the remote triage nurses makes it possible to get a clearer assessment to better guide the employee’s injury. For example, Dorothy, an Injury Hotline Nurse, was fortunate to have a nurse present when Cynthia, an injured school instructor, called reporting an injury to her knee. It was clear that Cynthia was emotionally distressed as a result of her visible injury and pain, describing her knee as “dislocated.” However, when Dorothy asked for the school nurse’s assessment, it was more of a severe swelling to the knee which reinforced Dorothy’s decision to send Cynthia to an Urgent Care facility. The addition of a set of professional eyes, on-site, facilitated the best course of action for the employee’s care and eliminated a costly ER visit.
With the 24/7 workers’ injury hotline in place, school nurses and support staff are freed-up from the claims process. The comprehensive and instantaneous reporting provided to all stake holders (District, Claims, Clinic/ER, and HR/Risk Management) by the hotline allows school staff to focus more closely on the diverse needs of the students. As a result of a more efficient reporting process, it is possible for employers to perform more timely internal investigations and revise procedures which aid in future injury prevention. For example, a health assistant at a public school attended a training session that required a demonstration on how to use an EpiPen. Thinking that the training device didn’t contain any medicine, an employee volunteered to demonstrate how to administer the EpiPen on herself. Unfortunately, the “Trainer” contained an expired dose of medicine. Since the school’s employee reported the incident immediately to Company Nurse, all the stakeholders were notified about the incident within minutes, allowing them to make revisions to their safety protocols for future trainings.
Often, the care required for a work injury is as simple as first aid. However, unless the on-site health professional is immediately available and experienced in work injury claims, these injuries might result in a costly ER visit. With a worker’s injury hotline in place, ultimately, 35 – 42% of work injuries reported by school employees do not result in a claim. The key issue is that employees feel safe and supported by a medical professional that is easily accessible and well-versed in helping to determine the appropriate level of care. Not only are work injury hotline nurses qualified to provide this service to injured school employees 24/7, but they can also be a valuable asset and calming force for the school nurse in assessing an injury and relieving anxieties brought on by the claims process. The professional eyes of the school nurse, in concert with the work injury expertise of Company Nurse’s RNs, result in notable savings for school districts and increased employee satisfaction.