Badly Burned on the Job? New Center of Excellence at Harborview Hospital in Seattle, WA

Burns are among the most painful on-the-job injuries. Each year, hundreds of workers in Washington are burned on the job so severely that they require specialized medical care. The care and support these injured workers receive are key to their recovery and return to work.

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) and Harborview Medical Center opened a new Center of Excellence for medical care for burns in August, 2017. The agreement expanded workers’ access to a range of specialists who collaborate throughout the worker’s recovery.

“Getting the right care at the right time is crucial for these catastrophically injured workers,” said Joel Sacks, director of L&I. “We hope to make their recovery better and a little easier by improving access to specialists.”

“The new Center of Excellence for Burns will help us streamline multi-disciplinary care to Washington’s workers who sustain devastating burns,” said Dr. Nicole Gibran, director of the Regional Burn Center at Harborview Medical Center, part of University of Washington (UW) Medicine. “By coordinating care with providers who understand burn injuries, we facilitate physical and psychological recovery.”

National data has shown that nearly 50 percent of adult burn patients do not return to work two years after injury and 28 percent never return to work. In contrast, a recent study in the Journal of Burn Care & Research showed that 93 percent of workers with work-related burns who were treated at the UW Medicine Regional Burn Center at Harborview returned to work on average 24 days after injury. The research attributes these dramatically improved outcomes to the broad support the worker receives from employers and workers’ compensation claims staff, and to the specialized and comprehensive burn care at Harborview.

To streamline care for burned workers insured by L&I, a group of highly-trained staff from the agency manages catastrophic claims. They will coordinate closely with UW Medicine and with staff wherever workers continue treatment.

The new center is part of an L&I project  to improve care for catastrophically injured workers. This is the second center of excellence; the first, for amputations, was established in early 2016.

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