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Is the health care workforce sicker than workers in other industries?

The author of an article in the current issue of HR Pulse asserts, “The health of our health care workers is worse than in just about any other industry in the U.S.” Citing data from a number of sources, he identifies indicators of poor health in health care compared to other industries, including:

  • Higher costs for providing health care benefits to health care workers and their families, along with productivity loss, which can be as much as three times the amount of direct benefit costs
  • Higher prevalence of chronic disease
  • Higher levels of usage of laboratory services, physical and occupational therapy, and the emergency room
  • Rising incidence of occupational injuries and illnesses

What contributes to the problem?

  • High-stress environments
  • Exposure to infectious diseases and occupational hazards
  • Long work hours

The author notes that the wellbeing of health care workers influences their behavior, which directly impacts patient satisfaction and quality of care, and, ultimately the financial performance of the organization.

Source: Parmenter, E. An unhealthy workforce. Solving America’s health care crisis starts with health care workers. HR Pulse. :26-29, Fall 2011. http://www.hrpulsemagazine.com/

Posted by AHA Resource Center, (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org.

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