Category archives for: Stephen M. Pfeiffer, Ph.D.

PTSD in first responders: emergency personnel’s repeated exposure to trauma can cause severe emotional stress

PTSD in first responders

PTSD in first responders is a common workplace risk — and one that should be addressed by employers as a preemptive measure.

Workplace stress management: therapeutic intervention can boost productivity and employee well being

Workplace stress management

Workplace stress management is critical to employee productivity and well-being, especially during the hectic holiday season.

How to deal with malingering in work comp cases: ensuring fair assessment for workers and employers alike

Work Comp Cases - Psychologist in La Jolla

Thorough examinations from both medical doctors and psychologists are critical when it comes to catching malingerers in work comp cases.

New California workers’ compensation law cuts mental health coverage, sparks concern among medical and legal communities

Earlier this month, lawmakers passed a new California workers’ compensation law that stands to enact a series of changes to the current system in an effort to cut insurance costs. According to CBS News, measure SB863 was approved in the California Senate by a 68-4 vote, and in the State Assembly by a similarly lopsided margin. However, while the vote went overwhelmingly in favor of the bill, the vast majority of those involved in the decision did not have an opportunity to even so much as read the measure prior to the floor vote, which was held on the last day of the Legislature’s session. The bill’s passage has thus prompted grave concern among those affected by the legislation — including injured workers, doctors, attorneys and psychologists – who view the vote as a back-room deal enacted without proper input and review.

Anxiety in the workplace linked to high productivity loss, sickness absence

Stephen M. Pfeiffer | Qualified Medical Evaluator

According to a recent report from the Stanford School of Medicine, anxiety in the workplace ranks together with depression as one of the most costly and detrimental health risks among employees. As noted in our last column, employee depression takes an incredible toll on businesses, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting a cost of $17-44 billion per year due to sick days on account of unmanageable symptoms. However, a new study conducted in Norway shows that both depression and anxiety were both predictors of employee sick leave. Not only that, the study found that “anxiety alone is a stronger risk factor for prolonged and frequent sick leave than depression alone.”

Workplace depression: mental health treatment and employee productivity

Stephen M. Pfeiffer | San Diego Psychologist

In past columns, we have touched on the connection between workplace depression – sometimes due to trauma or injury – and worker productivity. However, depression is also an illness in and of itself that can occur without discernible cause and wreak havoc on a patient’s health and company profits alike. The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) contends that workplace depression is a “common, chronic and often recurring disorder” with a substantial impact on all facets of employee and organizational performance. In order to properly rehabilitate workers who are suffering from depression, it is critical for employers to understand the illness – and to seek help from qualified mental health professionals.

PTSD and orthopaedic trauma: identifying symptoms for effective rehabilitation and treatment

Stephen M. Pfeiffer | Qualified Medical Evaluator

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental illness prompted by trauma or serious injury. While most often associated with the emotional or physical injury sustained by soldiers during combat, PTSD can arise out of any horrible or severely traumatic incident. Over the years, studies have shown a consistent link between symptoms of PTSD and orthopaedic trauma. Whether resulting from a violent encounter or a debilitating accident, such injuries may lead to PTSD in disabled patients – and in some cases, symptoms of the disorder may continue even after the physical injury itself is healed.

Department of Veterans Affairs to increase military mental health resources

Stephen M. Pfeiffer | Qualified Medical Evaluator

In response to the overwhelming number of returning veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries and related mental health concerns, the Department of Veterans Affairs has initiated an expansion of military mental health operations effective last month. According to The Washington Post, the VA will bring on approximately 1,600 health clinicians, ranging from nurses and social workers to psychiatrists and psychologists. In addition, the VA mental health workforce of 20,590 will increase its support staff by 300, for a total expansion of more than 9%.

Recent hearing portends impending changes to California workers comp system

Stephen M. Pfeiffer | Qualified Medical Evaluator

Last month, the California Assembly conducted a hearing regarding proposed overhauls to the state’s workers compensation system. According to the Sacramento Bee, critics of current California workers comp regulations proposed modifications including greater compensation for disabled workers, less rigid control over medical care and improved security for insurers. Such changes would alter provisions of the system’s 2004 overhaul, during which former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger enforced cost-cutting measures that reduced expenses for employers. However, some contend that workers and insurers suffered unfairly as a result of these changes– both financially and, in the case of some disabled employees, physically and emotionally – and that more spending is needed to ensure adequate care.

On-the-job injury, pain and PTSD: pinpointing the connection in workers compensation and return to work cases

Stephen M. Pfeiffer | Qualified Medical Evaluator

The connection between pain and PTSD is making headlines with regard to returning veterans and their likelihood to receive prescriptions for opioid pain relievers. According to the Los Angeles Times, a new study has shown links between PTSD diagnoses and opioid painkiller prescriptions among military veterans – as well as a disturbing prevalence of such prescriptions for PTSD-stricken veterans with substance-use disorders. Researchers behind the study suggest that these results indicate a need for better understanding of the connection between pain and PTSD; and while the issue is undoubtedly paramount for veterans and their families, it can also be a major factor in rehabilitation and return-to-work efforts for civilian workers struggling with pain and PTSD as a result of on-the-job injuries.

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  • Del Mar couple to present program about Bhutan at Solana Beach Library September 1, 2014
    Join cultural anthropologist and photographer Roger Harmon and his wife, Nancy, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9, in the Solana Beach Library for a free presentation of their travels to Bhutan through slides and artifacts. […]
  • Carmel Valley Boy Scouts climb Mount Whitney September 1, 2014
    Several boys from Boy Scout Troop 765 (Carmel Valley) made the climb to the tallest peak in the contiguous 48 states this summer. They spent the summer hiking the tallest peaks of Southern California, preparing for their hike of Mount Whitney. These peaks included Mount Baldy, Mount San Jacinto, and Mount San Gorgonio. The boys made the 22-mile round-trip tr […]
  • Multimillion-dollar renovation complete at Hilton San Diego Del Mar September 1, 2014
    Hilton San Diego Del Mar announces the completion of its multimillion-dollar renovation. Funded by Wheelock Street Capital and Sage Hospitality, the hotel’s completed renovation includes the lobby, business center, fitness center, restaurant, meeting spaces and all 257 guest rooms. “This renovation has truly transformed the Hilton San Diego Del Mar property, […]