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The number of inpatient hospitalizations among injured workers in California has declined, in part because of a reduction in the number of implant-eligible spinal surgeries in recent years, according the California Workers' Compensation Institute.
From 2008 to 2014, workers comp inpatient hospitalizations declined 22.8%, according to an updated report, “Inpatient Hospital Utilization in California Workers' Compensation,” released by CWCI on Thursday.
Payers of workers comp claims saw fewer hospital stays than Medicare, Medi-Cal and private coverage between 2013 and 2014, with the number of inpatient discharges for comp dropping 8.6%, the report states.
It also found that the number of workers comp implant-eligible spinal surgeries declined 8.4% in 2013 and 13.6% in 2014.
The decline “coincided with continued development of evidence-based medicine, utilization review, and independent medical review, fee schedule changes, and the phase out and ultimate repeal of duplicate 'pass-through' payments for hardware used in workers compensation spinal surgeries,” CWCI said in a statement.
However, since 2008, implant-eligible spinal surgeries have ranged between 21% and 23.2% of all workers comp inpatient discharges, according to the report. They accounted for 21.2% in 2014, the most recent year included.
The report notes that spinal fusions and back/neck procedures are the highest-volume inpatient hospital discharges among injured workers in California after major joint replacement or reattachment of a lower extremity.
Average medical-legal service costs increased 66% between 2007 and 2014 for California workers compensation claims following a change in the state's med-legal fee schedule structure, according to the California Workers' Compensation Institute.