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Treating occupational PTSD

December 28, 2018

Starting Jan. 1, when employees in certain public safety, medical and corrections jobs are diagnosed with PTSD, it will be presumed to be job-related if there was no previous diagnosis.

The new law covers firefighters, emergency medical technicians, police and corrections officers. Lawmakers who worked on the bill said there are people in those professions who have struggled to get an employer to cover their treatment through workers’ compensation.

Many who work in those fields have a military background. They might have PTSD from their service, but the symptoms could be latent and then are triggered by a traumatic incident, like a fire or car crash they are responding to at work, said Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, who was a chief author of the bill.

More work is needed to make sure people are reaching out and getting the help they need and insurers are processing claims in a timely manner, said Sen. Paul Utke, R-Park Rapids, who was also a chief author of the measure. There is a “macho” mind-set in some departments where people don’t debrief and work through the trauma they encounter on the job, he noted.

“If it’s treated early and treated correctly, it probably isn’t a major cost anyhow,” Utke said.

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