Morgan City doctor makes presentation on work force health, safety issues

Workers should receive a pre-employment physical examination and fitness-for-duties exams when returning to the work force if they medical condition has changed, said Dr. Donald Thibodaux, medical director at Safety Management Systems, in a presentation at the International Association of Drilling Contractors Health Safety Environment & Training Conference and Exhibition held in Houston, Texas.

The conference examined a range of topics impacting accident prevention, environmental protection, competency, and training in the drilling industry.

Thibodaux, a Morgan City doctor, gave a presentation, “Gulf of Mexico Medevacs 2008-2011: Fitness for Duty Issues,” which addressed the importance of promoting health and wellness throughout the Gulf of Mexico work force.

In his studies he found that four out of five emergent medical evacuations were for medical reasons while only one out of five were due to occupational injuries. His recommendations were that workers should receive a pre-employment physical examination, and also that they have a fitness-for-duty examination prior to returning to work if there is a change in their medical condition.

“It was an honor to be a part of the IADC conference and share the information that I’ve gathered over the last four years,” said Thibodaux. “Medevacs can cost an average of $60,000 round trip; by simply ensuring that employees are fit to work in remote areas of the Gulf of Mexico companies will not only cut costs but have a more productive and healthier workforce.”

As medical director, Thibodaux oversees the remote paramedic service of SMS, remaining on 24-hour call for emergency physician consultations. He helps instruct the clinical extension courses and regular training sessions with the SMS team to ensure the highest quality emergency medical response in the Gulf of Mexico. His background in both emergency and occupational medicine affords SMS the advantage of understanding OSHA incident classifications and their effects on the oil & gas industry.

A 1976 graduate of Nicholls State University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, Thibodaux attended medical school at LSU Medical Center in New Orleans and graduated in 1979. After completing his emergency medicine residency in 1982 at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, he spent 20 years practicing hospital-based emergency medicine in Houma. In addition to his role as medical director at SMS, he is also currently a staff physician at Bourgeois’ Occupational and Environmental Medicine Clinic in Morgan City.

SMS is a division of Acadian and one of the largest providers of safety, medical, security, training, and health and wellness services in the United States.

Since 1971, Acadian has been committed to providing the highest level of emergency medical care and transportation possible. In the past decade, the company has expanded to include a diverse suite of services in health, safety, and transportation. Acadian’s six divisions are Acadian Ambulance Service, Acadian Monitoring Services, Air Med, Executive Aircraft Charter Service, National EMS Academy and Safety Management Systems.

For more information about Safety Management Systems, visit or call 1-800-252-5522.

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