Time from Injury to First Medical Treatment Examined in New 18-State WCRI Study


Cambridge, MA (WorkersCompensation.com) - A new FlashReport from the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) examines interstate differences in the time from injury to first medical treatment among injured workers.

The study, Time from Injury to Medical Treatment: How States Compare, focuses on the median number of days from injury to first medical treatment by type of provider, type of service, and type of injury across 18 study states.

While the study was not designed to explain why differences in the timing of medical services exist, it offers some factors that may influence the differences, including workers’ compensation policy choices.

The following are the study’s major findings:

  • There was considerable variation across states in the time from injury to first treatment for physical medicine and “specialty” services such as surgery, major radiology, and pain management injections across injury types.
  • Patterns in time to first medical treatment were fairly consistent for some states; that is, some states tended to show shorter or longer time to first treatment across injuries and services. This may partly reflect workers’ compensation policy choices.
  • There was little variation in time to first medical treatment for “entry” services (such as emergency, office visits, and minor radiology) for most injury types.
  • Initial medical treatment was slightly faster for objective injuries (like fractures) than for subjective injuries (like sprains and strains).

The study examines claims with more than seven days of lost time for injuries occurring from October 1, 2014, through September 30, 2015, evaluated as of March 31, 2016. The 18 states in the study are Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The study was authored by Carol A. Telles and William Monnin-Browder. To learn more about this study or to purchase a copy, visit https://www.wcrinet.org/reports/wcri-flashreporttime-from-injury-to-medical-treatment-how-states-compare

The Cambridge-based WCRI is recognized as a leader in providing high-quality, objective information about public policy issues involving workers' compensation systems.

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