Mitigate your Legal and Financial Risk by Adding a Health Component to your Travel Policy
By Jay Keystone MD MSc (CTM) FRCPC
Medisys Travel Health Clinic – Toronto
Many companies have established comprehensive corporate travel policies outlining the requirements and processes for domestic and international travel. In some cases, a corporate travel manager is responsible for setting up all travel arrangements, flights, accommodations and managing the annual travel budget, but in too many cases, there is one coordination omission – travel medical advice and vaccinations.
Whether sending an executive for a 3-day meeting in Beijing, a worker on a 6-month contract to work in a mine in Peru or rewarding a top performer with a week’s vacation in the Caribbean, there are certain precautions that should be taken in order to mitigate the company’s legal and financial risk with regard to illness, injuries and even death while travelling abroad.
In a study done on 226 Coca Cola employees who travelled Internationally, 35% experienced travellers’ diarrhoea, 29% developed respiratory tract infections, 12% sought medical attention and a scary 43% of all employees were non-adherent to prevention advice (in malaria areas). Source: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1708-8305.1998.tb00504.x/pdf
A sick corporate traveller can translate into:
- Lost business opportunities while abroad
- Disruption to major projects
- Potential repatriation costs
- STD/LTD claims upon return
- Risk of other staff being infected
- Staff replacement costs
- Reduced productivity
- Lower quality of output
- Reduced staff morale
- Potential long-term health conditions upon return
- Potential employee lawsuits (if no action was taken by the company to help inform and protect the employee)
Even when provided with counselling on food and water-borne illnesses, 97% of travellers make a food and water ‘faux pas’ within 72 hours of arrival. Source: Kozicki M., Int J Epidemiol 1985; 14:169–72.
What about last-minute travellers?
It is almost as sure as death and taxes . . . every day, we receive emails and phone calls from frantic leisure and corporate travellers who are leaving to exotic destinations within the week and have only just realized that they need vaccinations. Because some vaccines require multiple doses before reaching maximum effectiveness, it is always recommended that travellers visit a travel health clinic 6 to 8 weeks prior to departure. In situations where this timeline can not be respected, our medical staff will discuss the risks associated with the traveller’s destination and provide other means of protection that can help to significantly mitigate their risk. In some situations, an accelerated vaccine dosing schedule can be given to maximize protection. It is never too late to visit a travel health clinic.
Top 3 Tips for Business Travellers
- Keep your vaccines up to date (even if you are not travelling). Most vaccines are effective for many years; ensuring that routine and basic vaccinations are up to date at all times makes good business sense.
- Always keep your fist aid kit replenished including self-treatment for travellers’ diarrhoea, malaria prevention and medication to reduce jet lag.
- Be aware of the risks concerning travel safety, personal security and sexually transmitted infections.
What about my employees’ personal travel?
Although an employer is not ethically or legally responsible for an employee’s vacation travel, it is in the employer’s best interest that their employees and their families have all of their vaccinations up to date beforehand and that preventive measures are taken prior to international vacations. If an employee came back to work with hepatitis or malaria, the employee could fall into STD or LTD for weeks or even months.
As part of our extensive employee wellness offerings, Medisys provides our clients with educational documentation and co-branded discount coupons for travel health consultations to be distributed to their employees or posted on their Intranet free of charge.
For more information about our travel health clinics, please visit us at www.medisys.ca/travel.
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Medisys to Donate a Portion of February 2010 Travel Health and Vaccination Clinic Proceeds to the Haiti Relief Efforts
Medisys has developed specific protocols for travellers to Haiti in order to provide them with the education, vaccinations and products required to address the health risks posed by the current conditions. There is a heightened risk of the spread of communicable diseases in addition to the existing risks posed by diseases such as travellers’ diarrhoea, hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever, rabies, malaria, and dengue fever.
To date, we have provided these types of protocols to various groups of first responders including firefighters, police officers and mission workers.
Medisys is proud to announce that a portion of proceeds from all February 2010 consultations at our travel health and vaccination clinics will be donated to relief efforts in Haiti. The funds raised will be donated to the Red Cross.
Medisys Health Group is pleased to announce the opening of the Guelph Region’s first and only full-time travel health and vaccination clinic conveniently located at the 83 Dawson Road medical facility in Guelph.
Medisys Travel Health and Vaccination Clinics provide travellers with customized travel health-related information based on their destination, activities and personal medical history and the full range of routine and travel vaccinations. The clinic is operated under the guidance of Dr. Jay Keystone, past-President of the International Society of Travel Medicine and staff physician at the Centre for Travel and Tropical Medicine at the Toronto General Hospital.
“We are very excited to add this clinic to the Medisys network.” states Dr. Keystone. “We feel that our national presence, combined with our full range of travel vaccinations and high level of customer service will positively benefit the Guelph-Waterloo-Kitchener-Cambridge population. We look forward to helping these residents stay healthy while travelling abroad.”
To ensure maximum effectiveness and convenience, Medisys offers a full range of vaccinations on site such as hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever, meningitis, HPV and many others. Prescriptions for medications to prevent malaria and altitude sickness, as well as medication for the self-treatment of travellers’ diarrhea are also available. In addition, Medisys’ Guelph travel health and vaccination clinic is designated by Health Canada as an approved Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre.
With 7 other travel clinics located in Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, Medisys is the only national provider of travel medicine in Canada.