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Workers’ Compensation Symposium Highlights Duties and Obligations of Case Managers

13 Jul, 2023 Claire Muselman

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Des Moines, IA - On June 23, 2023, industry professionals gathered at the 61st Annual Iowa Workers' Compensation Symposium to delve into the critical responsibilities of case managers in workers' compensation cases. The event, held in Des Moines, Iowa, featured expert speakers Lea Wagner, Vice President of Case Management at Paradigm, and Sonya Wadsworth, Senior Director of Case Management at Paradigm, who led an insightful discussion on the objectives, historical context, and ethical considerations related to the role of case managers.

The central focus of the presentation was to shed light on the duties and obligations that case managers owe to the key stakeholders involved in workers' compensation cases, including injured workers, attorneys, claims specialists, employers, and healthcare providers.

Beginning with a historical overview, the speakers highlighted significant milestones in the evolution of workers' compensation legislation. They emphasized the groundbreaking impact of the Workers' Compensation legislation enacted in 1911, followed by the development of organized services through the Social Security Act (SSA) in 1932. The presentation also acknowledged the pivotal role of case management, which was recognized as a "priority service" under the Developmental Disabilities Act in 1975. The speakers traced the emergence of case management programs targeting catastrophic injuries by insurers in the mid-1980s, culminating in establishing case management standards of practice by the Case Management Society of America (CMSA) in 1995.

Delving into the specific duties and obligations of case managers, the speakers underscored their role as educators and motivators for injured workers and their families. Case managers were highlighted as instrumental in scheduling and attending provider visits, coordinating treatment plans, monitoring the progress of injured workers, and advocating for their comprehensive care.

Case managers were portrayed as valuable allies in their interactions with claims specialists in facilitating the return-to-work process. They played a critical role in ensuring the appropriateness and cost-effectiveness of care, keeping claims specialists updated on the status of cases, and serving as a liaison between injured workers, providers, employers, and attorneys.

To support employers, case managers were encouraged to conduct thorough evaluations of job descriptions and collaborate closely to facilitate a safe and timely return to work. Regular treatment updates were vital in providing employers with the necessary information to effectively support the injured worker's recovery process.

The speakers emphasized the importance of effective communication and coordination with healthcare providers. Case managers were tasked with expediting the coordination of timely treatment, working alongside claims specialists to secure prompt approvals for recommended treatment, reviewing treatment plans for compliance, and assisting in the facilitation of early release return-to-work programs when recommended by providers and supported by employers.

The presentation also highlighted the case management process and its specific application within workers' compensation cases. Case managers were shown to follow a structured approach, including client identification, engagement, assessment, comprehensive case management plan development, implementation and coordination, ongoing monitoring and evaluation, and closure of professional case management services.

In addition to exploring the process, the speakers provided insights into the initial contacts made by case managers. These included confirming referral instructions with insurers, carriers, and adjusters; obtaining employment information from employers; introducing case management services to injured workers; and gathering relevant information from healthcare providers.

Proactive case management emerged as a key theme throughout the session. Case managers were encouraged to take charge early on, engage with all stakeholders, communicate and educate effectively, and proactively identify potential obstacles and develop strategies to ensure an early and successful return to work while minimizing delays.

The presentation underscored the ethical principles guiding case managers in their profession. The speakers referenced the Code of Professional Conduct for Case Managers, emphasizing principles such as prioritizing the public interest above personal interests, respecting the rights and dignity of clients, maintaining objectivity in relationships, acting with integrity and fidelity, ensuring ongoing professional competency, upholding the integrity of the case management profession, complying with laws and regulations, and actively participating in the evolution of the code to reflect current practice.

By providing comprehensive insights into the duties and obligations of case managers in workers' compensation cases, the 61st Annual Iowa Workers' Compensation Symposium empowered attendees with valuable knowledge and tools to enhance their professional practice. Armed with a deeper understanding of the historical context, case management process, and ethical considerations, industry professionals are better equipped to navigate the complexities of workers' compensation cases and deliver improved outcomes for injured workers and all involved stakeholders.

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    About The Author

    • Claire Muselman

      Meet Dr. Claire C. Muselman, the Chief Operating Officer at, where she blends her vast academic insight and professional innovation with a uniquely positive energy. As the President of DCM, Dr. Muselman is renowned for her dynamic approach that reshapes and energizes the workers' compensation industry. Dr. Muselman's academic credentials are as remarkable as her professional achievements. Holding a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership from Grand Canyon University, she specializes in employee engagement, human behavior, and the science of leadership. Her diverse background in educational leadership, public policy, political science, and dance epitomizes a multifaceted approach to leadership and learning. At Drake University, Dr. Muselman excels as an Assistant Professor of Practice and Co-Director of the Master of Science in Leadership Program. Her passion for teaching and commitment to innovative pedagogy demonstrate her dedication to cultivating future leaders in management, leadership, and business strategy. In the industry, Dr. Muselman actively contributes as an Ambassador for the Alliance of Women in Workers’ Compensation and plays key roles in organizations such as Kids Chance of Iowa, WorkCompBlitz, and the Claims and Litigation Management Alliance, underscoring her leadership and advocacy in workers’ compensation. A highly sought-after speaker, Dr. Muselman inspires professionals with her engaging talks on leadership, self-development, and risk management. Her philosophy of empathetic and emotionally intelligent leadership is at the heart of her message, encouraging innovation and progressive change in the industry. "Empowerment is key to progress. By nurturing today's professionals with empathy and intelligence, we're crafting tomorrow's leaders." - Dr. Claire C. Muselman

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