Chiropractors are seeing more work-related injuries.
Work-related injury and workers comp claims have been steadily rising over the past few years. But the cost of the work-comp claims have been increasing at an alarming rate. The medical model of treating work injuries is driving up the cost thanks to expensive MRI’s and pain meds that cost $4 per pill. With the health care costs in mind, there has been a shift in which type of provider is treating the injured worker.
Chiropractors are treating more workers for their work related injury. Those workers are reporting fewer lost days, and greater satisfaction with their care. And it costs less than traditional medical management. Employers and medical doctors are steering the injured workers to see chiropractors. This is according to a recent article published on Medscape. The article is copied below and here is the link.
Medical biases against doctors of chiropractic in the workers’ compensation arena are beginning to fade, as new research points to chiropractic’s effectiveness at getting workers back on their feet more quickly and less expensively than traditional medical care, according to the July issue of the Journal of the American Chiropractic Association. As a result, some doctors of chiropractic are experiencing an increase in the number of patients with work-related injuries who are being referred to them by medical doctors.
“It’s more pronounced in the younger generation of medical doctors who may have been exposed to chiropractic and alternative health care during their training, though it is still mostly limited to low-back pain, with some for neck pain and chronic headaches,” explains Fiona Fletcher, DC, a Minnesota doctor who has been in practice for 5 years. “I believe referrals for other conditions that chiropractic treats, such as chronic tendinitis and shoulder problems, leg pain, arm numbness, or TMJ, will eventually follow as research showing chiropractic effectiveness is more widely broadcast.”
A number of studies comparing medical and chiropractic care for work- related back injury, the most prevalent work-related injury treated by doctors of chiropractic, offer promising results, according to the article. One study concluded that chiropractic offered consistent 2-to-1 superiority, and another found that treatment costs in cases managed by doctors of chiropractic increased only 12% between 1986 and 1989, while treatment costs in cases managed by medical doctors increased 71% during the same period. After back injuries, doctors interviewed for the article report that the most common injuries they treat are postural-type strains to the neck and upper back and repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis.
However, the broad spectrum of workers’ compensation laws across the country and some lingering medical biases have continued to prevent direct access to doctors of chiropractic in many instances, despite the fact that chiropractic adjustments have proven effective in reducing pain and returning employees to work sooner, according to the article.
“There’s a lot of confusion out there, especially with the medium-sized employers where the human resource manager also wears the hat of safety manager and accountant,” says Dr. Fletcher. “They don’t fully understand their responsibilities as employers. I recently had a case where a safety manager from a plant did not know that his personnel were allowed to see chiropractors for work injuries.”
America’s medical bias becomes particularly evident with companies that have international investments, says Robert Sherman, Esq, general counsel for the Ohio State Chiropractic Association. The Japanese, for example, advocate the most cost-effective healthcare provider while their American counterparts lean toward medical doctors. During the past 5 years, however, he finds that the effectiveness of chiropractic treatment and the resulting cost savings to employers and insurers are helping to reverse traditional thinking.
In my St George chiropractic clinic, I have not seen any negative bias against chiropractors. It’s is true that there are some “bad apples” in every profession and those bad-apples can sour the reputation of a profession. But it seems that in St George UT, the chiropractors (for the most part) are respectable and doing their jobs appropriately. My office receives regular referrals from medical doctors. We, in turn, refer out to other specialties as well.
Our office is seeing work injuries on a regular basis. It seems that most workers are reporting to WorkMed right away, but the workers are figuring out pretty quickly that they get better service at our office.