Today’s issue of WorkCompRecap features CWCI’s release of a new study on the use of spinal fusion surgeries in California workers’ comp that found that in 60% of all spinal fusion claims the initial report of injury was for a sprain or strain, a majority of the fusions occurred within two years of the injury, and as the claims aged, more than 20% involved at least one subsequent fusion surgery.
Other notable findings included that the leading comorbidities were mental health disorders (which occurred in 37% of spinal fusion cases), while 29.9% involved circulatory problems, and 17.1% listed substance abuse as a comorbid condition. Loss payments on medical back diagnoses without spinal cord involvement averaged as much as $378,392 in AY 2003, or 6.7 times the average for similar claims without a spinal fusion. The study also examines independent medical review outcomes for spinal fusion requests; utilization trends for MRIs, pre- and post-surgery physical therapy, and the level of pre- and post-surgical opioid use.
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