Back Surgery Has Geographical Roots
Back surgery varies heavily by region according to a recent WCRI study. The somewhat controversial study indicated a wide variance on whether or not an injured worker had back surgery when diagnosed with back pain.
According to the study back injuries accounted for 20% of all workers comp claims. This is not actually a surprising figure as that seems to have been a constant over the years.
However, according to WCRI:
“Although common, how to best treat the injury—for example, when surgery is clinically appropriate or not—is controversial and lacks clinical consensus. Moreover, the frequency of surgery among workers with back injuries varies widely from state to state.”
The study also points out a 200% variance between whether someone with a back pain diagnoses actually had back surgery:
- 20% of workers with back pain had surgery in Oklahoma or Tennessee
- Less than 10% of workers in California or Florida with back pain had the same surgery.
Those are very astounding figures that TPA’s and carriers along with legislators should be examining in this very tough economy. A small variation would not be that important.
The three areas that heavily increased the likelihood of back surgery were:
- Surgery-intensive local practice norms – this is a very important component
- Higher reimbursement rates for surgery, and
- More surgeons in an area each independently were associated with higher likelihoods that an injured worker had back surgery.
WCRI smartly compared knee surgery rates in the same area as a control figure By contrast, thes three aforementioned factors explained little of the variation in knee surgery rates.
The study analyzed workers in 13 states:
- North Carolina
This was an extensive study as WCRI followed their medical treatment for one year from the date of their injury and examined the factors that were associated with their having back surgery or not.
The data comprised workers’ compensation claims and payment data, group health claims data, and other sources of information related to the health care and economy of geographic areas.
Article provided by James J Moore, AIC, MBA, ChFC, ARM. All articles are original content. Check out the full website at www.cutcompcosts.com