Burn injuries are some of the most painful and debilitating injuries a worker can suffer on the job. According to federal labor statistics, nearly half of adult burn patients do not return to work two years after their injury and nearly a third never return to work at all.
Thankfully, some states are taking a proactive approach in helping patients with burn injuries heal physically and emotionally, possibly even enough to return to work. Washington is one of those states, and it has taken a leadership role in the treatment of work-related burn injuries.
The Washington Department of Labor and Industries recently announced a collaborative effort with the University of Washington Medicine’s Regional Burn Center at Harborview Medical Center in creating a “Center of Excellence” for workers burned on the job.
This cooperative endeavor “expands workers’ access to a range of specialists who will collaborate throughout the worker’s recovery,” the Department of Labor & Industries explained.
Creation of the center follows a recent study published in the Journal of Burn Care & Research that found the rate of recovery from burn injuries to be drastically higher at Harborview Medical Center than national averages.
According to the study, 93 percent of employees suffering from work-related burn injuries who were treated at Harborview Medical Center returned to work on average 24 days after injury.
The study attributes these dramatically better outcomes to the broad support patients receive from employers, workers’ compensation claims staff, and the specialized and comprehensive burn care specialists at Harborview.
“Getting the right care at the right time is crucial for these catastrophically injured workers,” said Joel Sacks, director of the Department of Labor and Industries. “We hope to make their recovery better and a little easier by improving access to specialists.”
“The new Center of Excellence for Burns will help us streamline multi-disciplinary care to Washington’s workers who sustain devastating burns,” said Dr. Nicole Gibran, director of the Regional Burn Center at Harborview Medical Center. “By coordinating care with providers who understand burn injuries, we facilitate physical and psychological recovery.”
According to the Department of Labor and Industries, this is the second new center it has coordinated with to improve the care of “catastrophically injured workers.” The first center, established early last year, assists workers who have suffered amputations on the job.