By JOSHUA CLIFTON, editor of the
Workers Compensation Report newsletter, where this story first appeared
A recent study by the Workers' Compensation Research Institute examined how medical care for costly back conditions is addressed by physicians in 16 states across the country.
The WCRI study examined patterns of medical care for workers with common low back conditions, how these patterns varied across the 16 study states, and how the patterns compared with evidence-based treatment guideline recommendations.
Overall, researchers said they found workers with similar low back conditions received very different care, depending on the state. According to the study, these interstate differences were most noticeable for cases with nonspecific low back pain in the areas of diagnostic services and pain management injections.
For disc cases, for example, researchers said the interstate differences were most notable in the utilization of nerve testing, pain management injections, back surgery and physical medicine. Large interstate differences in the timing of care were also seen for both types of low back conditions.
The study also identified several areas of service and a number of states where the patterns of care were inconsistent with evidence-based treatment guidelines. The inconsistency, researchers said, is seen in the frequency of use and early use of X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging, especially for nonspecific low back pain and in the early timing of back surgery and injections for disc cases.
October 15, 2008
Copyright 2008© LRP Publications