Misdiagnosing Injured WorkersJuly 21, 2017
According to a recently released report by Best Doctors, the world’s leading expert medical consultation service, misdiagnosing injured workers is a serious problem that impacts employees, economy, and Workers’ Compensation claims. The report shows that of the top five percent of the most costly claims, over half of those cases involve medical misdiagnoses that drove up claim costs and affected the injured worker’s recovery.
Every year, there are approximately 250,000 injuries that cause employees to be out of work for more than 30 days. According to the report, at least one quarter of those injuries involve a misdiagnosis and/or an inappropriate treatment plan, including confusing symptoms of a ligament strain with a bulging disc, prescribing drugs that have harmful interactions, or performing inappropriate surgeries. Clearly, the financial toll these mistakes can have is enormous. In fact, the report estimated the current cost of claims is $65 billion nationwide, and could be reduced by close to $15 billion dollars if the most costly medical errors were prevented or immediately fixed.
Dr. Lewis Levy, Chief Medical Officer at Best Doctors, and co-author of the report, commented on the devastating impact these misdiagnoses can have from a physical, emotional, and financial perspective. For the injured worker in particular, it can result in a prolonged disability, significant financial strain, and the stress of job insecurity.
Case Studies of Work Injuries
The report also includes four case studies that identify specific problems with medical care, and the overwhelming burden they can have on both workers and claims payers. One example included a middle-aged bus driver who experienced severe pain in her lower back while trying to open the hood of the vehicle. Doctors treated her with injections, physical therapy, prescription opioids, and other treatments while she continued to work part time. Five years after the injury, she had surgery on her back, but her symptoms persisted. She was given multiple injections and used a spinal cord stimulator, which did not help.
Unfortunately, after being prescribed high-dose opiates, she became dependant on the pain medication which caused a range of debilitating side effects such as depression, decreased libido, constipation, and insomnia. The opioids made her condition worse, likely causing her to develop a condition associated with increased opiate dosages as opposed to reduced pain. She also faced the financial burden of the costs associated with treating the side effects of the opioid dependency.
This report is the first of its kind to address the issue of medical misdiagnoses in Workers’ Compensation. We have a responsibility to pay more attention to this issue and take steps to prevent these mistakes from happening, said Levy.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Injured Workers
If you or a member of your family has been seriously injured at work and the condition was made worse as a result of a misdiagnosis, you are urged to contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. We will fight to ensure that you receive all entitled benefits and aggressively pursue the maximum financial compensation you deserve so that you can return to work as soon as possible. For a free consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.