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Return-to-Work Study Reveals Service Flaws

Workers Compensation Research Institute

Return-to-Work Study Reveals Service Flaws

Based on three new state reports that compare outcomes of injured workers from Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Tennessee with 12 other states, an average of 10.5% of workers across 15 states never return to work as the result of a workplace injury and 16.7% have a difficult time getting the physician or services they want. Such are the findings of the Workers Compensation Research Institute.

The outcomes examined include recovery of physical health and functioning, return to work, earnings recovery, access to medical care, and satisfaction with medical care.  “By examining outcomes of injured workers, policymakers and other stakeholders can better understand how different state workers’ compensation systems compare in order to identify and prioritize opportunities to improve system performance,” said Ramona Tanabe, WCRI’s executive vice president and counsel.

The WCRI report (Comparing Outcomes for Injured Workers, 2017 Interviews), is part of an ongoing, multi-year effort by WCRI to collect and disseminate data on the outcomes of medical care. In addition to the three states noted above, WCRI has data from 12 other states (Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin).

WCRI researchers conducted telephone interviews with 9,730 injured workers from those 15 total states who were injured at work between 2010 and 2014. According to the report, between 12% and 21% of injured workers noted “big problems” obtaining the service they or their primary provider wanted, with 10 of the states falling in the 17% to 18% range.