This guideline is provided by the American Academy of Physician Assistants in Occupational Medicine. It is aimed to help the AAPA-OM members have easy access to accurate information and instructions regarding Occupational care. Practicing physicians, graduates, health care administrators, and others who are involved in this area of interest are encouraged to acknowledge the material as well.
PA or Physician Assistant is a health expert who helps and works together with a practicing physician. He is a member of the health care community and provides a great variety of services including diagnostics, therapeutics, and preventive measures regarding occupational illnesses and injuries. PA should have a related degree in Medicine and should be accredited by PA educational programs, and certified by NCCPA. The latter monitors and regulates the requirements according to state, local or federal jurisdiction.
A PA in Occupational Medicine is a professional who underwent training or courses and gained much experience in treating working injuries and illnesses. At all times, he should comply with all the state laws and requirements that are aimed to provide qualitative care to patients. Besides, his area of interest is to educate people who are involved in the same area or workers who find it important to follow a safe and healthy working environment.
Together with a physician in charge, a PA participates in a few components concerning Occupational Care. He takes part in preplacement, medical surveillance, post-illness checkups, referrals to controlled substances and alcohol.
Preplacement. It is the examination of individual emotional status that allows him to be on the duty safely and without putting at risk the others. It involves gathering medical history, assessment of systems that can be affected by the work, evaluation of job responsibilities or descriptions that might affect the worker’s health. The latter must comply with the regulations mentioned in the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Medical Surveillance. It is a review of one’s health condition when his working environment predetermines a risk or danger. Most commonly, it is directed on the targeted organ or system.
Post-illness checkup. It is the individual examination aimed to determine whether a worker is ready to come back to the duty after the injury or illness without experiencing side effects again or without putting at risk his colleagues. Also, it helps to find out the level of readiness to work again. He can be recommended either for a full-time return or partial job responsibilities only.
A PA can organize diagnostic and treatment for occupational and environmental injuries or illnesses, as well as rehabilitation. However, the impact of toxins and other bodily harms are directed to other dedicated experts such as hygienists, and toxicologists.
At all times, an employee is linked to professionals from the HR, therapists, counselors, insurance coordinators, quality managers or health and safety professionals.
Physician Assistants should have a related degree and experience in their area of interest. This knowledge will help them to understand one’s office policies, and then consult workers’ managers. Daily tasks include working environment surveys, screening programs, surveillance of the potential hazard on duty, patients confidentiality, and communication between health care providers and one manager.
The education of workers should be ongoing regularly to share the awareness of the potential hazard at work or adverse health effects in case of violating safety rules. Safety Sheets should be given to any workers and should be available at the office. The same, in one company there should be a person-in-charge who will meaningfully explain the regulations, and preventive measures to follow on duty.
It is a must to use ear muffs, plugs, safety glasses, respirators and other protective devices at the places of hazards.
Finally, it is recommended to undergo immunization against infections, evaluation of the health conditions, and rehabilitation in case of addiction to alcohol or drugs caused by work-related stress.