WCRI Researchers Compare States on Injured Workers Returning to Work

From 10 to 18 percent of injured workers never reach “substantial return to work,” according to new research by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) comparing outcomes for injured workers in six states.

In its study, Comparing Outcomes for Injured Workers, 2016 Interviews, WCRI compared outcomes of injured workers in Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin based on interviews conducted in 2016. In addition to return to work, the outcomes examined include recovery of physical health and functioning, earnings recovery, access to medical care, and satisfaction with medical care.

As part of an ongoing, multi-year effort to collect and examine data on the outcomes of medical care achieved by injured workers, WCRI has also looked at worker outcomes in nine other states (Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Tennessee) where it conducted interviews from 2013 to 2015.

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 in-house counsel.

“Substantial return to work” refers to workers who returned to work and remained working for at least a month before any subsequent absence from work. “We are not saying that working for at least a month is substantial but that working for a month is more substantial than a typical return to work not lasting for at least a month,” the authors, Bogdan Savych and Vennela Thumula, explain in their reports.

Among the findings on return to work in the six states are:

Indiana: Ten percent of Indiana workers with more than seven days of lost time reported never returning to work for at least a one-month period predominantly due to the injury as of three years post-injury, and 11 percent reported no substantial return to work within one year of the injury. These rates were somewhat lower than in many study states.

Virginia: Fourteen percent of Virginia workers with more than seven days of lost time reported never returning to work for at least a one-month period predominantly due to the injury as of three years post-injury, and 17 percent reported no substantial return to work within one year of the injury.

Wisconsin: Twelve percent of Wisconsin workers with more than seven days of lost time reported never returning to work for at least a one-month period predominantly due to the injury as of three years post-injury, and 13 percent reported no substantial return to work within one year of the injury.

Massachusetts: Fifteen percent of Massachusetts workers with more than seven days of lost time reported never returning to work for at least a one-month period predominantly due to the injury as of three years post-injury, and 17 percent reported no substantial return to work within one year of the injury.

North Carolina: Fourteen percent of North Carolina workers with more than seven days of lost time reported never returning to work for at least a one-month period predominantly due to the injury as of three years post-injury, and 18 percent reported no substantial return to work within one year of the injury.

Michigan: Twelve percent of Michigan workers with more than seven days of lost time reported never returning to work for at least a one-month period predominantly due to the injury as of three years post-injury, and 16 percent reported no substantial return to work within one year of the injury.

WCRI is an independent, not-for-profit research organization based in Cambridge, Mass.

Article source: http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2017/06/21/455240.htm