EMS shouldn’t face deadlines for PTSD claims

Delayed-onset PTSD can take years to surface, so having a deadline for filing a claim seems wrong


When it comes to stress on the job, our fellow EMS providers to the north seem to have it dialed in. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a recognized risk of the profession, and it seems that Canadians are conscious of that. 

Except in British Columbia, where Joanne Trofanenko was denied benefits related to PTSD after responding to the well-publicized deaths of her fellow crew members ─ one being a close friend.

Why the denial? Because she did not begin experiencing symptoms until after the one-year deadline to file a claim.

PTSD symptoms can take many years to surface after an incident. Known as delayed-onset PTSD, it may account for as much as 25 percent of all cases.

In the limited research that has been done on the subject, it is possible that patients with delayed-onset PTSD suffer subclinical signs of post-traumatic stress long before a full blown episode.[1] In other words, someone might not realize what's happening to them and instead chalks the signs up to a "normal" response after a very traumatic event.

That's why the time limit seems out of sync. Other Canadian provinces don't have time limits on when EMS workers can apply for PTSD assistance. While the story does not get into details about the issues involved, it seems appropriate that something needs to change to get this person some relief.

References

1. Smid, G.E., Mooren, T.T., van der Mast, R.C., Gersons, B.P., & Kleber, R.J. (2009).Delayed posttraumatic stress disorder: systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression analysis of prospective studies. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 70, 1572-1582.

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