Why Emergency Rooms Are Bad for Occupational Injuries

Eric Becker

After an on-the-job injury has occurred it’s crucial to avoid the Emergency Room for a successful return-to-work program.*  An ER department may sound like a quick and easy fix after an on-the-job injury has occurred, but it may end up being more of a hassle than you realize, and will probably cost you more time and money in the end.  

Continuum of Care

After an injured employee has been evaluated and treated at an ER department, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the treatment is over and your employee can return to work. It’s common for a physician at an ER department to recommend rest and no work activity for days or weeks following an injury. An emergency physician is trained to triage and stabilize an injury, but there is very little focus on any short-term work restrictions or long-term recovery. This is why you should visit an occupational medicine provider when the initial injury occurs, as opposed to an emergency room.

By choosing an occupational medicine clinic, the Health Care Provider can evaluate and treat the injury from start to finish with a goal of rapid recovery. At an ER department with a high legal liability, it’s usual practice to refer a patient to a specialist once an injury has been stabilized. This makes it very difficult to track and record treatment milestones when multiple providers are involved. In order for the quickest and most effective return-to-work treatment to take place, an experienced occupational medicine provider needs to evaluate the injury, beginning immediately after an injury has occurred. Occupational medicine treatment centers are specialized for on-the-job injuries, and they prescribe treatment plans that are going to return your employee to work as soon as possible. They can also help employers manage the workers compensation process, because they have greater familiarity with various state and industry regulations and lost time issues that impact an employer’s business. With specific reports and updates from an occupational medicine provider, an employer can better manage their business following an employee injury.


At an ER department, the main goal is to stabilize the patient, determine a diagnosis, provide immediate treatment, and then discharge an employee. There is no responsibility to assure follow-up visits, future specialized care, or any additional treatment that may be needed. An experienced occupational medicine provider with a comprehensive facility offers a single source for all your employees’ needs. Having your employee treated by one single provider makes it easy on both you and your employee. Your employee will not only receive better care, but they will also save time spent traveling to multiple providers, allowing them to focus on their recovery.

This all-in-one approach to medical care creates efficiencies in the process. Your employees can also return to the same provider for any rehabilitation needs, follow-up visits, and specialist care that may be needed for work-related injuries. Functional evaluations can be performed to ensure a rapid recovery and prompt return to work. This also helps to simplify billing and management of employee progress, by receiving updates from only one provider with reports and tracking of the injury.

Effective and simple cost savings for your business

While the Emergency Room is known as the place for immediate and emergency care, it has never been known to be economical. The emergency room is the most expensive level of care, and a majority of cases seen in the ER can be treated in lower-acuity settings such as an occupational medicine center. Most occupational medicine centers can treat a wide-range of injuries and illnesses with comprehensive technologies to provide similar level of care as an ER for “urgent” injuries.

At Concentra, the leader in occupational medicine, our providers consistently deliver savings up to 33% when compared to non-Concentra clinics. That is an average savings of over $2,000 per claim! Not only are you saving crucial dollars for your business, but you are also seeing your employees return to work quicker. Research also shows that Concentra averages 44 days less per claim1 due to its increased efficiencies, early intervention treatment, and focus on return-to-work. Overall, shorter treatment, faster return to work, and efficient care from an experienced occupational medicine provider results in lower costs for an employer and reduced downtime for the employee.  


An ER is still a vital and needed element in the delivery of emergency medical care, and it continues to be the best source for immediate care of life-threatening injuries. However, for many occupational injuries, better care is from an occupational medicine provider with experience in helping employees return to health and full function quickly. An experienced provider can help you balance the needs of the injured employee with your own employer needs. This limits the impact to your business, while speeding the healing of your employees. If you have an on-the-job injury, it’s often worth considering an occupational medicine provider to get your employee back to work at full duty – and to keep your business running.