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Case study 1: Spine injuries and concussion

Organisation

A leading food producer in the UK and Ireland, with 19 operating sites across the UK and Ireland specialising in chilled, bakery and frozen food production, with a workforce of 11,500 people.

Accident

Accident occurred in January 2005. Whilst loading goods into HGV a 46 year old male employee (HGV driver) slipped and fell backwards off the vehicle, sustaining injuries to his lumbar and cervical spine and suffering concussion. On admission to hospital the employee suffered head pains, neck and back pain and short term memory loss.

Intervention

OHA were notified of the case in April 2005 but had difficulty contacting the injured party for several weeks during a period when the employee was awaiting investigations and treatment.  The employee instructed solicitors to handle his claim and after 4-5 months of correspondence the solicitors agreed to OHA intervention.  During this period the employee was waiting for an appointment with a neurosurgeon to investigate his continuing symptoms.

In September 2005 OHA contacted the injured party’s GP to arrange an appointment with neurosurgeon on a private basis as an appointment via the NHS could have delayed things 12 weeks or more. The private appointment took place within a month and was followed by an MRI scan, avoiding the 12 month NHS MRI waiting list.

The MRI scan confirmed degenerative changes in the L5/SI vertebrae without any nerve root compression.  This indicated that no surgery was required and the consultant discharged the injured person advising physiotherapy and a return to work in a less physically demanding role. Prior to the consultation and subsequent results the injured party was claiming that he was unable to drive, could only walk for short distances and was claiming industrial injuries benefit reporting his level of disability as 25%. His motivation to return to work was poor.

The employee was referred to physiotherapy to promote further recovery and return to work. A graduated return to work programme on a sister site was agreed by the OHA with the GP, where the physical demand was less strenuous. The employee returned to work in November 2005 and was working to his normal capacity by February 2006.

Cost of treatment and savings

£1034 for neurosurgical consultation and follow up, physiotherapy, MRI scan and GP reports.

Up to 12 weeks saved in relation to private consultation and 12 months in relation to the MRI scan. A further 4-6 weeks was saved by providing physiotherapy on a private basis.

Without the intervention provided the injured party would most likely have been absent from work for a further 12 months, which would have significantly reduced the chances of him returning to work at all.

Updated 2012-11-29