In an article published in PLOS One, researchers looked over Worker’s Compensation claims from 2009 to 2018. During the first week of a low back pain injury, did adherence to guideline-recommended interventional treatment affect lost workdays? Of over 59,650 workers, 14.2% received only recommended interventions; 14.6% received only nonrecommended interventions; and 51.1% received both. “Workers who received only guideline-recommended interventions experienced significantly fewer lost workdays (11.5 days), a 29.3% reduction, than workers who received only nonrecommended interventions.”
Senior author of the study, Kurt Hegmann, MD, director of the University of Utah Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, commented that “The closer people’s care follows evidence-based guidelines, the faster their back pain resolves, by quite a bit.” The study noted that over the years, from 2009 to 2018, adherence went from 10% to 18%, and opioid prescriptions fell by 86%. Dr. Hegmann said, “the insurer is likely to not pay for opioids even if they are prescribed. It suggests what's possible when the ‘carrot’ of good health care is missed and instead the ‘stick’ of compliance with a guideline is in place.”
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