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Health care workers' comp claims steady in 2014 despite safety programs

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Workers compensation claim frequency for health care workers declined by about 1% in 2014, but comp claim severity among medical workers increased 2% last year as health systems say they struggle with safety procedures that can reduce worker injuries, Aon Risk Solutions said in a report released Tuesday.

The findings were published in Aon's annual Health Care Workers Compensation Barometer report, which surveyed 44 health care systems representing 1,150 medical facilities nationwide.

Among health care employers surveyed by Aon, 42% said their largest workplace safety concern is patient management, which includes lifting and handling of patients. About 74% of respondents said they have a safe patient handling program in place to help protect patients and employees from accidents, while 26% said they have no such program.

“Health care systems with successful safe patient handling programs have found they can significantly reduce the number of employee injuries and lost work days from injuries,” the report said. “Safe patient handling has been associated with not only fewer injuries but also a decrease in the severity of injuries.”

Among health care employers that have safe handling programs, 88% said they are satisfied with the program but are concerned about the sustainability of such initiatives, Aon said. Twelve percent of respondents said they're not satisfied with their safe patient handling programs.

“Many safe patient or resident mobility programs stall because they fail to realize the importance of following a continuous improvement platform and drive greater results for all aspects of the program,” the report said. “Any program should follow a defined process and strive to continually improve.”