May 1, 2008

Health Wonk Review, RIMS, emergency responders, mysterious pork worker illness

Daniel Goldberg has posted an excellent new edition of Health Wonk Review at his Medical Humanities Blog. This week's roundup from the brainiacs of health wonkery encompasses everything from the usual health policy debates to alcopops, including a handful of posts on legal matters and new legislation.

RIMS - Joe Paduda of Managed Care Matters has been blogging his observations from RIMS this past week. He's posted news from the pharmacy sector, notes an emphasis on outcomes, and discusses innovation.

Emergency responders - In response to a recent reader inquiry about injury rates among police, we unearthed a 2004 Rand report on Emergency Responder Injuries and Fatalities focusing on U.S. firefighting, law enforcement, and emergency medical services personnel. While a little dated, it's still worth a read. The report notes that while data for firefighter injuries are readily available, there are significant gaps in available data for police and EMT injuries. Line-of-duty fatalities are tracked, data on the frequency, type, and duration of injuries can be harder to come by. We'd welcome any pointers to data sources from readers.

Minnesota pork plant workers to be compensated - At least 18 workers at the Quality Pork Processors plant of Austin have come down with strange, debilitating neurological illnesses. Those affected worked at or near the "head table" where compressed air was used to blow brains out of pig skulls. The brain matter turned into a fine mist, and health authorities believe that the workers' exposure to this mist led to progressive inflammatory neuropathy, or PIN. The workers were initially denied workers compensation, but at least one worker has been notified that her claim will be honored so it sounds as though the insurer rethought matters, perhaps in light of some pending lawsuits.
Workers compensation is relatively clear cut when it involves injuries, but illnesses can pose numerous complexities and employees bear the burden of proof for demonstrating the work relatedness of the illness. With many illnesses, such as cancer, there can be delayed onset and it is difficult to prove that work and not some outside factor was the precipitating cause. In this ghastly case, medical authorities are still puzzled but have observed cases of the illness among pork workers in other states, all of whom were engaged in similar work at the "head table." All plants have now discontinued this practice.

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1 Comment

Regarding police fatalities:
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund creates a research bulletin every year on fatalities - http://www.nleomf.com/TheMemorial/Facts/2007_EndofYear.pdf

The Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc. has listings of police fatalities ranging back as far as the 1790's - http://www.odmp.org/year.php?year=2008

Another point... Police injuries can sometimes be hard to track if they are kept outside of the Workers' Comp system. For example, in Oregon we tend to provide extensive publications regarding WC injuries. However, police and fire employees from the City of Portland (obviously one of our largest jurisdictions) are covered by a separate disability fund, and therefore are not included in our statistics.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Julie Ferguson published on May 1, 2008 1:09 PM.

Disrimination in the UK: The (Bald) Facts was the previous entry in this blog.

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