December 1, 2002 Related Topics:
More than one-quarter of injured workers (including about half of those away from work for more than one week because of their injuries) receive physical medicine services, such as manipulations and adjustments, supervised exercise, hot and cold packs, electrostimulation and massage. These services represent about 20 percent of total medical costs in workers’ compensation and are most often used for back injuries, which represent 41 percent of all injuries that receive physical medicine services.
Any one or a combination of medical providers may deliver these services. This study focuses on the two most common provider patterns: chiropractors as the sole treating provider and physicians who provide the physical medicine services or who refer to other providers, most frequently physical therapists.
The study addresses some important policy questions. Among them are: How do costs of similar cases compare when a chiropractor provides physical medicine care and when a physician directs physical medicine care? Which provider pattern achieves a given outcome at the lowest cost?
This report analyzes similar cases in five states (California, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts and Texas) and focuses on a single outcome – the duration of temporary disability. Clinical efficacy, recovery of health and functioning, speed of return to work, and satisfaction of care are other important outcomes but are not addressed in this study.
Patterns and Costs of Physical Medicine: Comparison of Chiropractic
and Physician-Directed Care. Richard A. Victor and Dongchun Wang. December 2002.WC-02-07.
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