Clinical case complexity in occupational health

Dr Drushca Lalloo and Professor Ewan Macdonald from the Healthy Working Lives Group, in collaboration with University College Cork, have recently published the first paper on understanding clinical complexity in occupational health (OH).

Photo of red stethoscope on blue background

What makes a complex case in OH is poorly defined and understood. In this study, they identified, the multiple sources of complexity specifically tailored to the OH setting, which they defined and validated. They present a framework model for OH practice to improve the recognition and assessment of complexity.

While there is a body of research on complexity in the general healthcare and primary care settings, only two medical disciplines (infectious diseases and palliative care) have published specialty specific complexity frameworks. OH is now the third.

Understanding complexity is imperative for ensuring high clinical practice standards and clinical training/competency development but also importantly, appropriate triage/resource allocation.

Reflecting on the significance of the publication, Drushca Lalloo said: 

"The real value of this paper is that it provides an evidence basis for more efficient resource allocation, distinguishing what cases need to be seen by specialists and those that can be seen by non-specialists, nurses or allied health professionals. Its principles and methodology can be applied to other medical disciplines." 

Read the paper 


First published: 14 March 2018

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