PTSD and Work-Related Injuries

Cost Containment
Patient Management

January 15, 2019

BY: KAREN THOMAS, CORVEL’S DIRECTOR OF CASE MANAGEMENT INNOVATION

Seventy percent of all adults in the U.S. have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives – and over 24.4 million people have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at any given time.

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, serious accident, or violent personal assault.

Compensating workers who suffer PTSD due to a work-related event is gaining momentum. In October 2018, Florida expanded workers’ compensation benefits to include PTSD for firefighters, paramedics, EMTs and other first responders. Coverage could eventually expand to occupations such as correctional officers, emergency dispatch operators, physicians, nurses, and child protective services employees.

While anyone can develop PTSD, not everyone who witnesses or is involved in a dangerous event becomes afflicted by the disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an adult must have all of the following for at least 1 month to be diagnosed with PTSD:

  • At least one re-experiencing symptom
  • At least one avoidance symptom
  • At least two arousal and reactivity symptoms

Symptoms usually begin within 3 months of the traumatic incident and interfere with functioning in relationships or work, as individuals diagnosed with PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they are not in danger.

Compared to workers without the disorder, those with PTSD have greater rates of work absenteeism, increased use of healthcare services, and difficulty meeting work demands. However, the course of the illness varies. Thirty percent of those diagnosed recover within 3 months without any treatment, but for others, the condition becomes chronic.

There are a number of effective treatment options for PTSD – including medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. Effective treatment outcomes depend on timely referral and accurate diagnosis from a medical or mental health professional.

Employers that create environments of awareness, support, and tolerance ensure their workers receive the assistance they need to live healthy, productive lives following a traumatic work-related experience.

CorVel offers clinical services staffed by licensed, nationally certified professionals to assist in supporting your team. Our multidisciplinary solution addresses physiological and psychological treatments required for a patient to receive the most appropriate care and ultimately return to work. Services include Critical Stress De-Briefing, Advocacy 24/7, telemedicine, Case Management, medication review, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

CorVel believes quality holistic care is the best path toward conquering PTSD. Learn more here.

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