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Knowledge at Work - UL Workplace Health & Safety

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Occupational Health

Occupational medicine in a primary care world

December 11, 2012 - Posted by Dr. Bill Newkirk

The looming physician shortage, coupled with expanded health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act, an aging population and other pressures on the U.S. healthcare system are driving some occupational medicine providers to reposition themselves to take on primary care.

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Topics: occupational health, healthcare, employee health, illness prevention, hospital, employees, workplace wellness

A prescription for the workaholic workplace

September 25, 2012 - Posted by Dr. Bill Newkirk

Work-related stress can kill.

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Topics: occupational health, workplace safety, Featured, employee health, illness prevention, worker fatigue, absenteeism, employees, workplace wellness

Workers' Compensation: De-stressing depositions in contested cases

August 27, 2012 - Posted by Dr. Bill Newkirk

I used to give weekly depositions on the status of patients who were referred to me for the resolution of contested workers’ compensation cases.

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Topics: occupational health, workplace safety, healthcare, worker fatigue, workforce, employees, human resources, workplace, OSHA recordkeeping

Healthcare reform: Chief Justice John Roberts hands individual mandate back to voters

July 11, 2012 - Posted by Dr. Bill Newkirk

Prior to the Supreme Court’s decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), I wrote “You Be the Judge: Predicting the Supreme Court Ruling on the Affordable Care Act.” My analysis included an exercise for readers to learn more about this controversial case by reviewing the fundamental issues and reaching their own conclusions on the likely ruling.

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Topics: occupational health, healthcare, employee health

The Affordable Care Act: the most likely outcomes

May 24, 2012 - Posted by Dr. Bill Newkirk

In my last blog, I discussed the background and main issues regarding The Affordable Care Act, which may be the most significant event in the history of employee health since the creation of OSHA.

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Topics: wellness, occupational health, healthcare, employee health, hospital, employees

The Affordable Care Act: you be the judge

May 23, 2012 - Posted by Dr. Bill Newkirk

In late June, the United States Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This ruling may be the most significant event in the history of employee health since President Nixon signed the act creating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1970.

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Topics: wellness, occupational health, healthcare, illness prevention, hospital

Joining Underwriters Laboratories

December 29, 2011 - Posted by Dr. Bill Newkirk

When I was a senior medical student, I became obsessed with finding the reason why certain of my professors and fellow students were so much better at medical diagnosis than I was. My search for the answer led me to the mathematics of probability theory. I continued my research when I was a surgery resident and created a mathematical probability model to diagnose appendicitis. I sent my research to the prestigious British medical journal, The Lancet. They promptly rejected it. My efforts did win a low-level award from the American College of Surgeons. When I presented my theories to a roomful of surgeons after winning the award, one replied with a smirk: “Dr. Newkirk, you’re saying that we’re going to have to have a computer in every emergency department.” Several other surgeons nodded dismissively at the preposterous nature of this assumption. I left the podium defeated. It was 1976. I was 25 years old. A few weeks later, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak released the Apple 1 computer. The medical world was going to change. I re-directed my models to use these new computers and created tools for the prediction and treatment of work-related injuries. Thirty-five years after my lecture to the surgeons, these tools are used by approximately half of the occupational medicine providers in the United States and by hundreds of thousands of employers.

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Topics: training, occupational health, workplace safety, healthcare, employee health, occupational safety, injury prevention, hospital

First, heal thyself: OSHA responds to the crisis in healthcare worker health

November 21, 2011 - Posted by Dr. Bill Newkirk

On November 9, 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics released data showing that the 2010 incidence of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work was 2 ½ times higher in health care support workers than in the population as a whole. And the rate is increasing: musculoskeletal disorder cases with days away from work for nursing aides, orderlies and attendants increased 10 percent from the previous year.

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Topics: compliance, occupational health, workplace safety, OSHA, healthcare, occupational safety, injury prevention, hospital, safety culture, department of labor

Employee health's future? Keep your eyes on the Supreme Court

November 02, 2011 - Posted by Dr. Bill Newkirk

When he delivered the keynote address at PureSafety’s 2011 User Conference in Nashville, former Tennessee Governor Philip Bredesen presented a well-reasoned critique of President Obama’s health care reform plan contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Because he is a Democrat and has extensive health care experience in both the public and private sectors, Bredesen is an influential voice in the health care debate. His recent book, Fresh Medicine: How to Fix Reform and Build a Sustainable Health Care System, lays out his detailed analysis of the issues. On October 21, 2010, the Wall Street Journal published Bredesen’s essay, “ObamaCare's Incentive to Drop Insurance”, in which he describes how Tennessee could reduce its health care costs $146 million under the proposed health care reform rules by shifting the responsibility for state health care to the federal government. Bredesen writes: “For an entrepreneur wanting a lean, employee-oriented company, it's a natural position to take: ‘We don't provide company housing, we don't provide company cars, we don't provide company insurance. Our approach is to put your compensation in your paycheck and let you decide how to spend it.’”

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Topics: wellness, occupational health, healthcare, employee health, hospital, workplace wellness

Asking the tough questions: spinal fusion in workers’ compensation patients

October 10, 2011 - Posted by Dr. Bill Newkirk

Trang Nguyen MD, PhD and her colleagues from the University of Cincinnati, using their own money to avoid funding bias, conducted an important study to determine whether lumbar fusion was a useful treatment for workers’ compensation patients with herniated or degenerating lumbar discs. Since the FDA approved the use of interbody cages in 1996, the rates of lumbar fusion surgery have increased dramatically. With an average cost per procedure of greater than $60,000, physicians and hospitals have a strong economic incentive to perform the procedure.

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Topics: occupational health, healthcare, return to work, employee health, workers' compensation, employees

Dr. Bill Newkirk

William L. Newkirk, M.D., F.A.C.P.M, has more than 30 years of clinical experience directing a hospital-based occupational medicine program. He is well known as an educator, author and software developer. In the late 1970s he wrote SYSTOC, the first commercially successful software for occupational medicine. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University College of Medicine and Harvard University where he was a John Harvard Scholar and is currently a guest lecturer.

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