Reduce Hospital Workers' Compensation Insurance

Reduce workers' compensation insurance costs at your hospital
Reduce workers' compensation insurance costs at your hospital

We consider hospitals a place where we go to heal and be made well from injury or illness.  The best hospitals provide high-quality, professional care for its patients, but always with the risk of injury or illness exposures to hospital employees.  There are, however, common sense best practices you can incorporate into your employee selection procedures that will help you hire and retain staff that is less injury prone and better able to remain productive on the job.  This article will provide some basic steps to get you started on a solid loss control program and help reduce your workers’ compensation premiums.

Good Hiring Procedures

Establish standard selection and hiring procedures.

  • Require that each employee candidate complete an application and go through an interview process.
  • Check employment references through telephone conversations and complete a criminal background check. If hiring licensed or credentialed medical professional, check references with schools and residency directors, and with state credentialing agencies to ensure licenses are current and “clean”.
  • Conduct pre-employment physicals, including range of motion testing. This is important to establish a baseline of physical abilities and reduce future fraudulent injury claims.
  • Require pre-employment substance abuse screening.

Employee Training

Provide appropriate initial safety orientation training to all new hires. This will vary according to position but medical care providers should receive at least the following:

  • Infection control procedures
  • Lifting and patient transfer procedures
  • Sharps injury prevention
  • Personal security
  • Hazard communication
  • Fire safety
  • Emergency action
  • Good housekeeping
  • General safety

Provide specialized safety training as appropriate. For example, employees who work in Alzheimer or psych units should receive training covering the care of residents with dementia or psychological problems.

Provide ongoing safety refresher training to keep staff alert to potential exposures. For example, nursing staff should complete a quarterly in-service on topics relating to nursing care safety. Kitchen and housekeeping staff should have more regular safety meetings that focus on topics that concern their primary job duties, such as body mechanics and proper handling of tools.

Establish an Employee Health Department (EHD).  Strongly encourage employees to go through the EHD if they are injured at work by describing the range of services that are available through your EHD, including ergonomics specialists and physical therapists who can take charge of cases involving muscular-skeletal injuries.  The primary benefit of an EHD is that you can maintain full control of employee injury cases and direct employee to specialists on staff who can communicate openly and regularly with hospital management and the claims administrators.  Handling the case in-house also allows lets EHD staff investigate underlying problems that may be contributing to injuries or impeding the injured employee’s progress. 

Establish a return-to-work (RTW) program.   The primary purpose of an RTW program is to get employees back to work quickly and safely through a program that encourages psychological and physical healing.   Studies find that employees who participate in an RTW program remain better motivated, more productive, and less anxious about their financial status.  The program also reinforces management’s commitment to the employee’s recovery and communication open.  Employees who participate in RTW come back to work much faster than those who sit home and mope in front of the television; this reduces lost days and helps retain your most valued employees.  Look under Resources for more information on the benefits of RTW programs and additional links to sample plans.

Establish good injury claims handling procedures.   Ensure that staff responsible for claims management works closely with the insurance company’s claims adjustors and the injured employee to keep the case moving toward resolution.  Open and frequent communication is important so the employee doesn’t feel abandoned and all parties remain focused on the common goal, which is the employee’s recovery.   

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