Surgery and Workers’ Comp

An interesting article that we found recently on Becker’s Orthopedic, Spine & Pain Management Review outlines some factors that doctors and surgeons take into consideration before performing surgery on workers’ compensation patients.

1. Some spine surgeries that can be done in an outpatient ambulatory surgery center usually reimburse well for workers’ compensation cases. So it may not be uncommon for a doctor to recommend an anterior cervical and lumbar discectomies and some fusions to be done in the outpatient setting.

2. When a doctor assesses a patient for surgery, they not only examine a patient’s physical characteristics; they also assess a patient’s psychological health and the patient’s motivation to recover. Another factor they consider is the length of time a patient has been on pain medication, as that can cause further complications.

3. According to an article published in the Journal of Spinal Disorders & Techniques, recovery expectations among workers’ compensation patients with back pain can predict their recovery. A study of workers’ compensation claimants found that those who had negative work-related recovery expectations were more likely to have slower suspension of time-loss benefits and slower claim closure in patients with back pain.

4. A study by Trang H. Nguyen, MD, of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, showed that spinal fusions led to worst long-term outcomes in workers’ compensation patients compared to those patients who underwent nonsurgical treatment. The study examined workers who underwent spinal fusion for low back pain, most of whom had degenerative disc disease, herniated discs or nerve root disease. Spinal fusion patients were also more likely to continue to use opioid drugs for pain management. Those who received conservative treatment were more likely to return to work.

5. Doctors and surgeons are required to predict outcomes and recover time by the claimant’s company because the company must set aside money for the employee’s medical care until the injury is healed. The physician’s prediction can be off, however, in which case the company will ask the physician to revise it.

Filing a workers’ compensation claim when you’ve been injured on the job can be a tedious process. Knowing what to do should be the least of your worries. The attorneys at O’Connor Law can help you navigate the filing procedures so that you can focus on recovering and so that you can be compensated for your injuries. Contact us for a free review of your case.

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