1998 and beyond--Legge's legacy to modern occupational health.
Thomas Legge achieved much in his professional lifetime. The purpose of this lecture is to highlight some of these achievements in the light of what we have achieved since then. In other words, if Legge was in the audience today, how would he feel we have performed? On 'industrial maladies', progress has been made in reducing poisoning by heavy metals but our success with chrome ulceration and lead depends on surveillance and control. Room for improvements remain. For asbestos related diseases, Legge would be disappointed with our progress. Two areas of particular concern to Legge were upper limb disorders and 'occupational neurosis'. Much remains to be done. As a member of the 1st Committee on Compensatable Diseases, a review of the Scheme to date will focus on the common diseases now being prescribed and on the threats to the Scheme from the Benefits review. For the future, there are many challenges in the newer workplaces and the changing workforces. The HSE initiatives for a new occupational strategy and the Government Green Paper on Public Health provide great opportunities for the occupational health professional to influence the nature and shape of future public health strategy. Above all we must have some of Legge's characteristics to achieve this-vision, passion and commitment. (+info)
An expert system for the evaluation of historical asbestos exposure as diagnostic criterion in asbestos-related diseases.
Compensation schemes for asbestos-related diseases have developed different strategies for attributing a specific disease to occupational exposure to asbestos in the past. In the absence of quantitative exposure information that allows a valid estimate of an individual's historical exposure, general guidelines are required to retrospectively evaluate asbestos exposure. A risk matrix has been developed that contains qualitative information on the proportion of workers exposed and the level of exposure in particular industries over time. Based on this risk matrix, stepwise decision trees were formulated for decisions regarding the decisive role of historical asbestos exposure in case ascertainment of asbestosis and mesothelioma. Application of decision schemes will serve to speed up the process of verifying compensation claims and also contribute to a uniform decision-making process in legal procedures. (+info)
Device evaluation and coverage policy in workers' compensation: examples from Washington State.
Workers' compensation health benefits are broader than general health benefits and include payment for medical and rehabilitation costs, associated indemnity (lost time) costs, and vocational rehabilitation (return-to-work) costs. In addition, cost liability is for the life of the claim (injury), rather than for each plan year. We examined device evaluation and coverage policy in workers' compensation over a 10-year period in Washington State. Most requests for device coverage in workers' compensation relate to the diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment of chronic musculoskeletal conditions. A number of specific problems have been recognized in making device coverage decisions within workers' compensation: (1) invasive devices with a high adverse event profile and history of poor outcomes could significantly increase both indemnity and medical costs; (2) many noninvasive devices, while having a low adverse event profile, have not proved effective for managing chronic musculoskeletal conditions relevant to injured workers; (3) some devices are marketed and billed as surrogate diagnostic tests for generally accepted, and more clearly proven, standard tests; (4) quality oversight of technology use among physicians may be inadequate; and (5) insurers' access to efficacy data adequate to make timely and appropriate coverage decisions in workers' compensation is often lacking. Emerging technology may substantially increase the costs of workers' compensation without significant evidence of health benefit for injured workers. To prevent ever-rising costs, we need to increase provider education and patient education and consent, involve the state medical society in coverage policy, and collect relevant outcomes data from healthcare providers. (+info)
Health services research in workers' compensation medical care: policy issues and research opportunities.
OBJECTIVE: To describe some of the unique aspects of medical care offered under workers' compensation insurance systems and discuss the major policy considerations relevant to health services researchers undertaking investigations in this area. BACKGROUND AND FINDINGS: State-based workers' compensation (WC) insurance systems requiring employers to pay for medical care and wage replacement for workplace injuries and illnesses were first developed between 1910 and 1920 in the United States. Employers are generally required to purchase state-regulated workers' compensation insurance that includes first-dollar payment for all medical and rehabilitative services and payment of lost wages to workers with work-related illness or injury. Injured workers have variable but usually limited latitude in choosing their health care provider. Employers and workers' compensation insurers have incentives for controlling both the cost of medical care and lost wages. CONCLUSION: The major policy issues in WC medical care--the effect of patient choice of provider and delivery system structure, the ensuring of high-quality care, the effect of integrating benefits, and investigation of the interrelationships between work, health, and productivity--can be informed by current studies in health services research and by targeted future studies of workers' compensation populations. These studies must consider the extent of patient choice of physician, the regulatory environment, the unique role of the workplace as a risk and modifying factor, and the complex interaction between health and disability insurance benefits. (+info)
Prognosis of accidental low back pain at work.
Accidental low back pain at the workplace was classified into two groups; 177 cases of the organic type and 176 cases of the non-specific type. Concerning the recuperation period, the length of leave, and the amount of compensation for recuperation, medical cost and leave of absence, a comparison was made between two groups. Regarding age, sex, and the type of work, no difference was found between the organic and the non-specific groups. However, the non-specific group showed lower values than the organic one for the duration of recuperation and leave and the amount of compensation for medical cost and leave of absence. Multiple regression analysis showed that the difference in the type of low back pain had more influence on the duration and cost than that in sex and age. The prognosis of non-specific low back pain is better than that of organic one in terms of cost and duration. (+info)
Occupational cancer research in the Nordic countries.
Occupational cancer research in the Nordic countries benefits from certain structural advantages, including the existence of computerized population registries, national cancer registries with high-quality data on cancer incidence, and a personal identification number for each inhabitant. This article outlines the utilization of this research infrastructure in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, together with research examples from the different countries. Future research on occupational cancer in this region requires that national legislation on electronic handling of sensitive personal information should not be stricter than the European Union Directive on individual protection with regard to personal data. A personal identification number is essential both for keeping up the high quality of data of the registers and for the high quality of the process of linking the different data sources together. Although previous occupational research has focused on male workers, a broader approach is needed in the future, including a study of how cancer risk in women may be affected by occupational activity and the question of possible cancer risk in offspring of men and women exposed to workplace carcinogens. (+info)
Occupational cancer in France: epidemiology, toxicology, prevention, and compensation.
This article is a description of the current situation in France with regard to occupational cancer: research, prevention, and occupation. Toxicologic experiments are carried out using (italic)in vitro(/italic) and (italic)in vivo(/italic) tests, particularly using transgenic mice. Several epidemiologic studies have been conducted over the last decades: population-based case-control studies; mortality studies and cancer incidence studies carried out in historical cohorts of workers employed in the industry; and case-control studies nested in occupational cohorts. French ethical aspects of toxicologic and epidemiologic studies are described. The results thus obtained are used to establish regulations for the prevention and the compensation of cancers attributable to occupational exposure. This French regulation for prevention of occupational cancer involves several partners: (italic)a(/italic)) the states authorities, including labor inspectors, responsible for preparing and implementing the labor legislation and for supervising its application, particularly in the fields of occupational health and safety and working conditions; (italic)b(/italic)) the Social Security Organisation for the analysis of present or potential occupational risks based on tests, visits in plants, complaints or requests from various sources, and statistics. These activities are performed within the framework of the general French policy for the prevention of occupational cancer. This organization includes the National Institute for Research and Safety, particularly involved in research in the various fields of occupational risks--animal toxicology, biologic monitoring, exposure measurements epidemiology, psychology, ergonomy, electronic systems and machineries, exposure to chemicals, noise, heat, vibration, and lighting; and (italic)c(/italic)) companies where the regulation defines the role of the plant manager, the occupational physician, and the Health, Safety and Working Conditions Committee (comprising the manager, employees' representatives, the occupational physician, and the safety department) in dealing with any problem regarding safety, occupational hygiene, and working conditions. These organizations along with medical practitioners are involved with the compensation of occupational cancers. The regulation for compensation includes the tables of occupational cancer, the possibility of recognition of a cancer case when the requirements of the tables are not met, and the postprofessional follow-up of workers exposed to a carcinogenic agent. (+info)
Occupational cancer in Germany.
As in probably mostly all other European countries, the incidence of occupational cancer in Germany increased steadily after World War II. In 1994 about 1,600 cases of occupational cancer were compensated--more than ever before. More than half of these cases were lung cancer, most caused either by asbestos (n=545) or by ionizing radiation ((italic)n(/italic)=306). Other frequent target organs of asbestos were the pleura and the peritoneum with 495 cases of mesotheliomas. Asbestos was the single most important risk factor for occupational cancer, causing more than 1000 deaths per year. All other malignant diseases, such as bladder cancer, leukemia, angiosarcoma of the liver, adenocarcinoma of the nose or nasal sinuses, and skin cancer, were comparatively rare. Although primary exposure to ionizing radiation in uranium ore mining occurred in the 1950s and attributable lung cancers seem to be on the decline, this is not true for asbestos, where the peak incidence in lung cancer and mesothelioma has not been reached yet. (+info)