Workers' Compensation Hand Injuries Receive Different Care

More testing and longer time to surgery interval seen in Workers' Compensation recipients
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with Workers' Compensation insurance tend to have more clinic visits for hand injuries and disorders prior to surgery and more diagnostic testing than hand-injured patients with standard insurance, according to research published in the Oct. 6 issue of the Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Charles S. Day, M.D., of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues analyzed and compared data on diagnostic testing, diagnosis, surgery, and wait-time to surgery for 116 patients with Workers' Compensation insurance and 1,297 patients with standard insurance to see if there was a difference in diagnosis and course of treatment of hand disorders between patients with the two types of coverage.

The researchers found that patients with Workers' Compensation had a higher number of pre-surgery visits and underwent slightly more surgeries than those with standard insurance; for example, 45 percent of the patients with Workers' Compensation who needed surgery had surgery after the first visit, compared with 69 percent of those with standard insurance. Those with Workers' Compensation were also more likely to receive electrodiagnostic testing or magnetic resonance imaging.

"Compared with patients receiving standard insurance, patients receiving Workers' Compensation insurance have a greater number of clinic visits before undergoing surgery and receive more diagnostic testing. More research is needed to explore these differences and their potential clinical and economic consequences," the authors write.

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