Directed Medical Care: How to Get Injured Workers Timely and Effective Treatment

July 6, 2020 • Previsor

When an employee is injured on the job, medical care should be an employer’s first priority. Trained managers know how to respond. The right health care provider can offer effective solutions. Quick treatment prevents injuries from getting worse. But in order to support employees with great care, employers need to plan ahead. That’s why employers should have a directed medical care plan.

On this episode of the WorkSAFE Podcast, we invite Steve Summers to join us. He is a Field Service Manager (FSM) at Missouri Employers Mutual. Summers became an FSM a few years after joining MEM in 2007. He works with policyholders to help them develop solutions after a claim. As a liaison between employers and MEM claims management staff, Summers works to improve overall claims outcomes.

First, we’ll cover why it’s important for employers to consider directing medical care. Then, we’ll talk about the first steps an employer can take to prepare for on-the-job injuries. Finally, we’ll share the importance of timely medical care.

Listen to this episode on the WorkSAFE Podcast, or read the show notes below.

Directed medical care: having a plan in place

Do you know what to do if an injury happens in your workplace? Injured employees need medical treatment as soon as possible after an incident. “Medical treatment is the golden rule,” Summers said. “It’s the number one benefit we have to provide injured workers.”

Where will an employee go for a mild injury, like a strain or sprain? Who should supervisors call if a severe injury happens? If an injury happens in the workplace, you don’t want your staff to be unprepared. Directed medical care means having a plan in place before an injury occurs.

Can I direct my employee’s medical care?

An employer’s right to direct medical care is different from state to state. Your work comp insurance carrier will know your state’s laws and can answer any questions. If you don’t have a legal right to direct medical care for your employee, you can still recommend a medical provider. Injured workers may not know where to start. They might come to you for a suggestion.

What if my employee doesn’t want medical care?

In the state of Missouri, employers are obligated to offer medical care at the time of the incident. But employees also have the right to choose their own. If an employee declines directed medical care, then any care they choose will be at their own cost. However, they can receive care later if they change their mind.

Workers use equipment to lift heavy boxes into truck

Incident management: preparing for on-the-job injuries

Directed medical care is just one part of a good incident management program. It includes all of the resources needed to handle a workplace injury, including:

If you are able to legally direct medical care in your state, then you can begin making a plan today. Use these two steps to get started:

  1. Select a medical provider. Occupational health care providers offer quality care. They are familiar with common workplace injuries and can help with post-incident drug testing. Research who is available in your area and choose a provider. Then direct injured employees to them.
  2. Train supervisors and managers. It is important for team leaders to know what to do if an incident occurs. Don’t put them in a position where they need to research care options or decide for themselves.

Preventing ineffective treatment

Employers have a responsibility to offer medical treatment to injured employees. Summers finds that this is key to preventing the wrong care. An employee who isn’t offered the right treatment may seek out medical care on their own.

For example, an employee with a sprained ankle or strained back could choose to go to the emergency room. This usually means an expensive and unnecessary trip, where they spend a long time waiting to be seen by a doctor. They may leave with little to no effective treatment.

However, Summers counters, there are times when a trip to the ER is necessary. When a severe injury happens, it’s important to seek help right away. “If you have to dial 911, that employee is going to go to the emergency room,” he specified. These calls are usually needed when the worker is unconscious, has suffered a head injury, or has lost a lot of blood. Our Injury Management Kit can help your team decide which injuries need an emergency call.

Medical professional examines a patient's leg

Support services: helping employers direct medical care

MEM has a number of services that can assist employers in directing medical care. Our Safety and Risk Services team can provide training, help choose medical providers, and offer resources for recovering workers. Nurse Case Managers provide additional support over the phone or through on-site visits. They often help injured workers schedule appointments and have medical supplies shipped to their homes. Our Return to Work Coordinator focuses on getting employees back to work with modified duty or alternate positions.

Our 24/7 work injury line is also available to help direct care at the time of an incident.

Better outcomes: why timely care matters

Medical care is the most important benefit an employer can offer to an injured worker. It is vital to offer treatment at the time of injury. This can prevent employees from seeking care that is more expensive and less effective. The emergency room is still the right place for traumatic injuries. If your employee is severely injured, then 911 will get them the fastest and most effective help. However, for common workplace injuries, directed medical care can provide you – and your employee – with better outcomes.

July 6, 2020
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