Workers’ compensation costs for healthcare caregivers: Home healthcare, long‐term care, and hospital nurses and nursing aides

Source: Kermit G. Davis, Andrew M. Freeman, Jun Ying, Jeffrey R. Huth, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Volume 64 Issue 5, May 2021
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From the abstract:
Background: Healthcare workers (nurses and nursing aides) often have different exposures and injury risk factors depending on their occupational subsector and location (hospital, long‐term care, or home health care).

Methods: A total of 5234 compensation claims for nurses and nursing aides who suffered injuries to their lower back, knee, and/or shoulder over a 5‐year period were obtained from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and analyzed. Injury causation data was also collected for each claim. The outcome variables included indemnity costs, medical costs, total costs, and the number of lost work days. The highest prescribed morphine equivalent dose for opioid medications was also calculated for each claim.

Results: Home healthcare nurses and nursing aides had the highest average total costs per claim. Hospital nurses and nursing aides had the highest total claim costs, of $5 million/year. Shoulder injuries for home healthcare nursing aides (HHNAs) had the highest average total claim costs ($20,600/injury) for all occupation, setting, and body area combinations. Opioids were most frequently prescribed for home healthcare nurses (HHNs) and nursing aides (18.9% and 17.7% having been prescribed opioids, respectively). Overexertion was the most common cause for HHN and nursing aide claims.

Conclusions: With the rapidly expanding workforce in the home healthcare sector, there is a potential health crisis from the continued expansion of home healthcare worker injuries and their associated costs. In addition, the potential for opioid drug usage places these workers at risk for future dependence, overdose, and prolonged disability. Future research is needed to investigate the specific and ideally reversible causes of injury in claims categorized as caused by overexertion.