In nursing homes, workers’ compensation insurance provides financial benefits for employees injured in the workplace. This important insurance plan also helps to control nursing home losses. As a risk management strategy, long-term care facilities that adopt robust workers’ comp policies and procedures are better able to control expenses associated with employee injuries, ultimately leading to a more efficient and cost-effective operation.
Employee Injuries in Nursing Homes
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) routinely places the healthcare sector among the riskiest job categories in the United States. Employee injuries are so common that many employers treat them as a “when, not if” issue. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the average nursing home industry rate exceeds 12.5 injuries per 100 full-time workers. This is about four times higher than the rate of all other industries combined. Faced with these staggering numbers, the critical role of nursing home workers’ compensation insurance cannot be overstated.
Opportunities for Nursing Homes: Managing Claims
In any risk management strategy, identifying hazards and implementing safety-oriented practices is a time-honored method of reducing insurance claims. Nursing home workers’ compensation is no different; smart managers know they can control claims frequency and severity by adopting preventative practices to reduce injuries and illnesses among staff members. During annual underwriter reviews, lower claims typically result in lower premium costs, presenting a money-saving opportunity for long-term care facilities.
Effective Nursing Home Workers’ Compensation Policies and Procedures
How can nursing homes create effective policies and procedures regarding workers’ compensation? There are several core components, including:
- Defining Employee Responsibilities
- Investigating Workplace Accidents
- Evaluating Medical Care for Injured Employees
- Return to Work Programs
To protect employees from injuries and to lessen the complications associated with injury reporting, it is a good practice to carefully outline each employee’s responsibilities. This definition must include specific duties and expectations, including the reporting and management of injury claims. This part of the process establishes accountability throughout the organization.
If an injury is to occur, every available detail must be documented. Documentation should include witness statements, completion of incident forms, and supporting information. Failure to adequately document injuries can result in unforeseen claims expenses or the inability of an employee to receive the workers’ comp benefits they are entitled to as a result of their workplace injury. Investigating the circumstances leading up to the accident can also help prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.
Medical care of injured employees can be a thorny subject; much of the available care is determined by the nature of the injury as well as applicable state laws. Forward-thinking care facilities will establish relationships with healthcare providers who are equipped to handle injured employees. These relationships typically result in better care, improved communication, and a greater chance for the injured employee to return to work more quickly.
Return to work programs assess the ability of injured employees to return in some capacity to the workplace. This tends to improve workplace productivity and morale by preserving the talent pool employed by the nursing home. Many injured workers, after initial medical treatment and care, may be able to perform limited workplace functions, such as light-duty work. Such programs are highly effective at reducing costs, including the benefits costs associated with nursing home workers’ compensation claims.
Setting Procedures in Nursing Homes
Establishing robust effective nursing home workers’ compensation policies is a great first step in achieving a more efficient and cost-effective workplace. One last piece of the puzzle is in setting procedures for workers’ comp claims management.
The best nursing home facilities will designate a claims coordinator as well as to create a comprehensive workers’ comp claims manual. This manual addresses the specific procedures to follow in cases of workplace injury, including answers to these following questions:
- How are injuries reported?
- What medical treatment will the injured employee receive and where will that occur?
- When does drug/alcohol testing occur?
- What forms must be completed after an injury?
- When is the insurance claims adjuster notified of a workplace injury?
- How is the employee’s recovery monitored?
- Will employees receive training when they return to work?
- What can be done to address the hazards or situations that led up to the injury?
Nursing home workers’ compensation insurance is a valuable employee benefit. By managing all aspects of this insurance, care facilities can reduce unforeseen expenses, protect employees, and potentially experience lower premium rates.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at (877) 226-1027.