As more and more Americans are living with diabetes, workers’ comp programs have begun to feel the effects. Often, healthcare costs and recuperation times increase if a worker doesn’t have their diabetes under control.
The Journal of American Medical Association released a study in 2015 that found almost 50 percent of American adults have either pre-diabetes or diabetes – an estimated 29.1 million. JAMA’s study also found that diabetes costs an estimated $245 billion in healthcare and lost productivity every year.
At a recent educational session, Regional Clinical Director Eric Patten of One Call Care Management illustrated the potential impact that the health trend could have on workers’ comp claims. Patten, an RN who is also diagnosed with diabetes, explained how workers with the condition may have a harder time healing after injury.
Patten stated that complications after an injury for someone who hasn’t controlled their diabetes properly include slower healing, infection and longer recovery times, which directly contribute to higher costs for claims and longer periods of time that workers are out healing.
The key to solving the problem, according to Patten, is making sure that claims professionals can identify the injured worker’s diabetes status early on and determine whether or not they’re properly treating their condition. Those who aren’t taking care of their diabetes may have to use special treatment for their issues until they’re cleared to go back to work.
It’s important to get claimants on the right track nutritionally with counseling so that they can understand how their diet affects their blood sugar. Many people can control their diabetes simply through consistent adherence to a nutritional plan. Others can use insulin pumps, glucose monitoring and the recently improved medications to control their blood sugar and diabetes, and in turn, be able to heal better and faster to get back to work.