Many safety pros are familiar with doctor-shopping — when an injured employee tries to find a doctor whose diagnosis will extend workers’ comp benefits. Now a study shows the cost impact these doctors have.
Less than 4% of treating physicians account for more than 72% of workers’ comp costs, according to a study from Johns Hopkins University.
The researchers looked at workers’ comp cases in Louisiana during a five-year period.
Among the findings about the doctors termed cost-intensive providers (CIPs):
- Their average claim total was four times higher than other doctors — $46,000 vs. $11,000
- CIPs’ claims took more than twice as long to settle compared to other doctors — 697 days compared to 278 days, and
- 31% of CIP claims were over $50,000 compared to 13% for other physicians.
More than half of the doctors incurring high costs were involved with pain management.
Louisiana allows injured workers to choose their doctors. Other states have more restrictions on that. In those states it’s less likely that a smaller number of doctors would have such a large impact on workers’ comp costs.
The study was published in the January edition of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.