Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Research Shows Fast Return to Work Is Best

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Research Shows Fast Return to Work Is Best

Article excerpt

A U.S. physicians group is supporting the notion of what some experts have been saying for years -- returning to work as soon as possible results in many benefits to the worker.

"Safe, early return-to-work programs are in the best interest of patients," the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons noted in a statement.

Reduced costs to employers also follow, through cuts in disability payments, medical costs, absence from work and insurance premiums, according to the group.

After a yearlong analysis, researchers found that those who stay out of work longer suffer more emotionally and find it harder to get future employment compared with those who go back to work early.

"Patients with extended disability often become depressed and show decreased motivation, and their medical outcomes are usually worse than those of patients who participate in early-return-to-work programs," Dr. J. Mark Melhorn, an orthopaedic surgeon at The Hand Center in Wichita, Kan., said in the October issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

Under current workers' compensation and Social Security systems, however, disabled workers are discouraged from going back to work, according to Melhorn. …

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