Objective To share the process of planning a medical surveillance program for healthcare workers in a hospital in Singapore, and the experience of implementing and evaluating this program.
Methods To plan the medical examinations program, we looked at the occupational disease and general health profile of healthcare workers, the role of pre-employment and periodic medical examinations, as well as existing guidelines and evidence for these medical examinations. Thereafter, we proposed a framework for the medical examinations program together with the evaluation plan in collaboration with various stakeholders.
Results Local and overseas studies found that healthcare workers are at risk of occupational diseases such as tuberculosis, musculoskeletal disorders and occupational skin diseases. A local survey showed that three-quarters of the respondents experienced moderate stress level at work, over one-third experienced at least moderate level of body pain in the past four weeks, and more than four in ten of employees being overweight. One recent case of a paediatric nurse infected with tuberculosis highlighted the importance of occupational health for healthcare workers, including appropriate medical examinations and vaccinations. Existing literature showed that pre-employment examinations specific to certain jobs and health problems could be effective in reducing occupational disease, injury or sickness absence. Risk stratification is thus an important principle in our medical examinations programme. Our medical examinations programme includes targeted screening for infectious diseases and other occupational and work-related diseases, and preventive measures such as vaccinations and education. The program will be implemented from April 2016, as part of a larger initiative, Total Workplace Safety and Health. The evaluation plan will include process measures, outcome measures, and cost analysis.
Conclusion Through this program, we hope to reduce the incidence of occupational and work-related diseases among our staff, for a healthier and more productive workforce.
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