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Traditional carpal tunnel


Workers compensation news reporting of late – including mine- has focused on newer issues like narcotic pain reliever addiction, obesity’s impact on claims costs, and the dispensing of pharmaceuticals from doctors’ offices.

So it’s easy to forget about the more traditional workers comp cost drivers like carpal tunnel, unless, perhaps, you are a claims payer getting hammered with soft tissue injuries.

But a new study from the California Workers’ Compensation Institute should serve as a reminder that carpal tunnel remains a potent cost driver. The CWCI looked at nearly 20,000 claims, which revealed several troubling facts.

For example, the average claim duration for carpal tunnel cases in California is about 31 months. That is nearly triple the average of 10.8 months for other injury types.

“Less than 1 percent of California job injury claims are for carpal tunnel syndrome, yet these cases account for about 2-1/2 percent of benefit payments in the system,” CWCI said in a January 10, bulletin announcing the study results.

“They remain open longer than other claims; involve more medical services, and more than half result in permanent disability – three times the rate for all injuries,” the bulletin states.

The statistics are likely different for other states due to jurisdictional laws and regulations. But I suspect wherever you are, carpal tunnel remains a worker safety and claims issue that workers comp professionals must stay on top of.

More information about the CWCI is available here.