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Injured workers identify care concerns, satisfaction rates

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An average of 10.5% of workers across 15 states never return to work as the result of a workplace injury, and an average of 16.7% reported difficulties getting the health services they wanted or their physicians requested, according to data released Thursday by the Workers Compensation Research Institute.

Researchers with the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based institute conducted telephone interviews with 9,730 injured workers from 15 states who were hurt at work between 2010 to 2014. The results were released in phases, with Thursday’s data being the culmination of five separate reports, and draw a picture to help policymakers and workers compensation stakeholders benchmark the performance of the workers comp system to identify and prioritize opportunities to improve, according to the latest reports.

Among the findings — which are detailed in separate 126-page reports for all 15 states, with Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Tennessee reports released Thursday — are that an average of 7.9% of workers surveyed reported earning “a lot less” due to injury at the time of the interview with studied states falling between 6% and 11% of injured workers reporting a significant loss of income.

The workers interviewed live in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

Between 12% and 21% of injured workers reported “big problems” getting the service they or their primary provider wanted, with 10 of the states falling in the 17% to 18% range, according to the reports.

Between 71% and 83% of injured workers were “somewhat” or “very satisfied” with their care. Between 11% and 20% reported being “very dissatisfied” with their care, according to the reports.

The surveys were conducted, on average, about three years after the workers were injured and involved claims with more than seven days of lost time. Each claimant interviewed in the sample received an income benefit payment and medical care paid for under workers compensation, according to the WCRI.