Jul 16, 2014 2:18 PM by Dave Fields

New Study: Most offshore medevacs aren't job related

A new study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reveals that, despite common perception, the majority of medevacs from rigs in the Gulf of Mexico are for non-job related injuries or illness.

The recently published study was released in the July 2014 article entitled "Medical Evacuations from Oil Rigs off the Gulf Coast of the United States from 2008 to 2012: Reasons and Cost Implications." The article shows that the majority of air medical evacuations are not from occupational injuries or trauma, but instead ailments or traumas unrelated to the offshore workers employment on the rig.

Compiled from the data of medical calls from 102 oil rigs and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico from 2008 through 2012, with specific analysis of medevacs, the findings indicated that on average, 77% of medevacs were for non-occupational medical injury or illness, with the most common reason being chest pain. Only 23% were for occupationally related injury or illness.

Safety Management Systems (SMS) Medical Director Donald P. Thibodaux, M.D. - along with coauthors Robert M. Bourgeois, M.D., MPH; Ronald R. Loeppke, M.D., MPH; Doris L. Konicki, MHS; Pamela A. Hymel, M.D., MPH; and Marianne Dreger, MA, conducted the study.

"Medevacs are costly, and the remote locations of the facilities make patient transport inherently more risky. Appropriate pre-placement and pre-deployment fitness-for-duty assessments and return-to-work evaluations for offshore workers, coupled with a company health and wellness program, can significantly reduce medevac rates," said Thibodaux, who first presented his findings, with medical directors from BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, and other oil companies in attendance, in a session at the American Occupational Health Conference in San Antonio, the largest occupational medicine conference in the world.

As SMS medical director, Thibodaux oversees the division's remote paramedic service, remaining on 24-hour call for emergency physician consultations and virtual examinations by an advanced video conferencing system, known as telemedicine. This technology allows Thibodaux to examine, diagnose, and treat employees in remote locations, reducing unnecessary transports and evacuations.



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