The Hospital Occupational Health Service

August 21, 2015 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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The health and safety of a hospital's workforce should be a paramount concern for hospital leadership and risk managers. In fact, U.S. hospital workers are less healthy and have higher healthcare utilization than U.S. workers in other industries. Specifically, hospital workers and their dependents

The cost of health benefits consumes 4% of hospital operating revenue—or 68% of operating profit for a medium-size community hospital. But this dismaying statistic has a bright side: for each 1% reduction in employee health risk, an organization with 16,000 employees saves $1.5 million annually. (Taylor and Bithoney)

Occupational safety is also a major concern. Healthcare is a hazardous field to work in, and costs associated with lost workdays, job restriction or transfer, personnel turnover, and workers' compensation claims can be high. Figure. Workplace Injuries and Illnesses per 100 Full-Time Hospital Employees illustrates the rate of workplace injuries and illnesses among hospital employees from 2007 to 2013.

Worker illnesses and injuries may also pose risks to patients; for example, providers and staff who have infectious diseases may transmit them to patients—a particular concern if the patients are immunocompromised. Thus, many occupational health service functions—such as healthcare personnel immunization, evaluation or referral for conditions that may affect the individual's work (e.g.,...

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