Category Archives: Uncategorized

Spinal surgery drop leads to fewer workers comp hospitalizations

Today’s post was shared by Workers Compensation and comes from www.businessinsurance.com.

As headlines like this one appear across the country we are simultaneously noting a significant increase in surgery denials from claims managers. Coincidence? – kc

Spinal Surgery

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…

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Smartphone App Created for Day Laborers to Anonymously Report Employers

Today’s post was shared by WC CompNewsNetwork and comes from www.workerscompensation.com

Sacramento, CA – The New York Times reports that after three years of planning, an immigrant rights group is set to start a smartphone app for day laborers, a new digital tool with many uses: Workers will be able to rate employers (think Yelp or Uber), log their hours and wages, take pictures of job sites and help identify, down to the color and make of a car, employers with a history of withholding wages. They will also be able to send instant alerts to other workers. The advocacy group will safeguard the information and work with lawyers to negotiate payment. Not mentioned in the story is the opportunity for workers’ compensation carriers to recover lost premium.

"It will change my life and my colleagues’ lives a good deal," Omar Trinidad, a Mexican immigrant, said in Spanish through an interpreter. Mr. Trinidad is the lead organizer who helped develop the app. "Presently, there is a lot of wage theft," he said. "There has always been wage theft, and the truth is we’re going to put a stop to that." Mr. Trinidad, suggested the name for the app – Jornalero, which means day laborer in Spanish.

The app had its soft launch on Tuesday night, with beta testing to be held later this month at the Jackson Heights section of New York City day laborer stop that stretches for a mile along 69th Street. Day laborer centers in Brooklyn and on Staten Island will also be testing the product, which is available in Spanish and English.

The plan is for…

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OSHA Orders Reinstatement, Back Wages and Damages for Alaska Pilot Fired for Raising Safety Concerns

Today’s post was shared by WC CompNewsNetwork and comes from www.workerscompensation.com.

Seattle, WA (WorkersCompensation.com) – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered an Alaska aviation company to pay years of back wages, $100,000 in compensatory damages, and to reinstate a pilot who had been suspended, then fired and ostracized among the close-knit industry for reporting safety concerns at work.

Bald Mountain Air Services violated federal whistleblower laws with its actions against the employee in 2012. With 35-years of aviation experience, the pilot for the Homer-based company raised repeated safety concerns at work ranging from missed drug tests for pilots to poor recordkeeping.

“Voicing safety concerns at work should never cost someone their job,” said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator Galen Blanton. “This employee should be hired back, compensated and treated fairly from here on out.”

OSHA’s order requires Bald Mountain Air Services to:

  • Pay the employee back wages at the rate of $350 per day from November 2012 until he receives a bona fide offer of reinstatement.
  • Pay the employee $100,000 in compensatory damages for pain, suffering and mental distress.
  • Expunge his employment records of any reference to the exercise of his rights under federal whistleblower law, and any reference to the adverse actions taken against him.
  • Not retaliate or discriminate against him in any manner, nor convey to a third party any mention of the employee’s protected activity.
  • Respondent…

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OSHA Orders Reinstatement, Back Wages and Damages for Alaska Pilot Fired for Raising Safety Concerns

Today’s post was shared by WC CompNewsNetwork and comes from www.workerscompensation.com.

Seattle, WA (WorkersCompensation.com) – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has ordered an Alaska aviation company to pay years of back wages, $100,000 in compensatory damages, and to reinstate a pilot who had been suspended, then fired and ostracized among the close-knit industry for reporting safety concerns at work.

Bald Mountain Air Services violated federal whistleblower laws with its actions against the employee in 2012. With 35-years of aviation experience, the pilot for the Homer-based company raised repeated safety concerns at work ranging from missed drug tests for pilots to poor recordkeeping.

“Voicing safety concerns at work should never cost someone their job,” said OSHA Acting Regional Administrator Galen Blanton. “This employee should be hired back, compensated and treated fairly from here on out.”

OSHA’s order requires Bald Mountain Air Services to:

  • Pay the employee back wages at the rate of $350 per day from November 2012 until he receives a bona fide offer of reinstatement.
  • Pay the employee $100,000 in compensatory damages for pain, suffering and mental distress.
  • Expunge his employment records of any reference to the exercise of his rights under federal whistleblower law, and any reference to the adverse actions taken against him.
  • Not retaliate or discriminate against him in any manner, nor convey to a third party any mention of the employee’s protected activity.
  • Respondent…

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Zika pushes 38 percent of U.S. businesses surveyed to let workers defer trips

Today’s post was shared by Workers Comp Brief and comes from mobile.reuters.com

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen inside the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) insect pest control laboratory in Seibersdorf, Austria, February 10, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen inside the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) insect pest control laboratory in Seibersdorf, Austria, February 10, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
A scientist shows a picture of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes inside the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) insect pest control laboratory in Seibersdorf, Austria, February 10, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
A scientist shows a picture of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes inside the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) insect pest control laboratory in Seibersdorf, Austria, February 10, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
A biologist displays Aedes mosquito cells inoculated with virus Zika in the laboratory of Biology from University of Campinas (UNICAMP), in Campinas, Brazil, February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker
A biologist displays Aedes mosquito cells inoculated with virus Zika in the laboratory of Biology from University of Campinas (UNICAMP), in Campinas, Brazil, February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

(Reuters) – Some 38 percent of U.S. multinationals, universities and non-profits surveyed by an arm of the State Department are allowing female employees to defer travel or leave countries where the Zika virus has been reported.

A fifth of the 321 respondents said they were giving male employees similar options, a sign of how employers’ travel policies are diverging as they react to the mosquito-borne virus and uncertainty about the way it is transmitted.

Scientists are investigating a potential link between Zika infections of pregnant women and more than 4,000 suspected cases in Brazil of microcephaly, a condition marked by abnormally small head size that can result in developmental problems.

The State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), which has a membership of more than 3,500 U.S. companies and institutions that do business abroad, surveyed its members and reported the…

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The quest for meaningful and accurate occupational health and safety statistics

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from www.bls.gov

For much of its 130 year history, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)1 has collected data and published reports on occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. From the beginning, BLS has engaged in ongoing efforts to improve the breadth and accuracy of the data available for end users. As far back as 1912, the Occupational Safety and Health Statistics (OSHS) program published annual reports on work injuries and illnesses.2 Two of the more recent annual reports are from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), which began with publishing 1972 data in 1974,3 and the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), which began with publishing 1992 data in 1994.4 The SOII covers nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses, and the CFOI covers fatal work-related injuries. In 2013, the SOII estimated that there were 3,007,300 occupational injuries and illnesses among private industry workers, a rate of 3.3 per 100 full-time equivalent workers. This was down from a rate of 5.0 a decade earlier. Likewise, CFOI data identified 4,585 fatal work injuries in 2013, down from 5,575 in 2003. BLS is continually improving collection methods to ensure that occupational injury, illness, and fatality data are accurately tracked.

The OSHS program has seen many new developments. The program has adapted to changes to the structure of jobs among American workers—moving from field to factory to office—and changing workplace safety regulations. This article…

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New staging of mesothelioma tumors may predict outcome

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from workers-compensation.blogspot.com

A recent study indicates that a new physician staging processes by weight and volume of mesothelioma tumors may be helpful in predicting outcome. Mesothelioma is a fatal rare tumor and almost always associated with exposure to asbestos fibers. The development of mesothelioma commonly is diagnosed decades after the initial exposure to asbestos fiber.

Today’s post is shared from sciencedaily.com and reports a significant development in the treatment of the disease.

A new study suggests that significant improvements could be made in the scoring system physicians use to estimate the stage (severity) of mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly cancer.

The current scoring system incorporates such factors as the size of the tumor and whether it has spread to other parts of the body. The study’s findings suggest that, in addition, tumor weight and volume "may be valuable components for staging malignant pleural mesothelioma."

An improved scoring system could provide a more accurate prognosis and help guide treatment, said lead author Wickii Vigneswaran, MD, MBA, who now is at Loyola University Medical Center and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Dr. Vigneswaran has performed nearly 200 mesothelioma surgeries, and he is among only a handful of surgeons nationwide who treat mesothelioma surgically.

The study is published in the European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery. Eur J Cardiothorac Surg (2016)doi: 10.1093/ejcts/ezv422 First published online: January…

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WA Workers Who Lose Limbs Will Receive State-Of-The-Art Care at New Center of Excellence for Amputations Thanks to Partnership Between Medical Center and L&I

Today’s post was shared by WC CompNewsNetwork and comes from www.workerscompensation.com. This is, potentially, great news if it can avoid the stall and delay tactics sometimes encountered in an injury claim, particularly those where separate insurance companies are involved. – kc

Tumwater, WA (WorkersCompensation.com) – Amputations are among the worst on-the-job injuries. Each year, about 25 workers in Washington suffer from amputations so serious — lost arms, hands, legs or feet — that they require ongoing specialized care. The medical care and assistance these injured workers receive are key to their physical and mental recovery.

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) and Harborview Medical Center today announced a new agreement to provide focused help for the most traumatic on-the-job amputations. The two organizations have worked together to create a new Center of Excellence for medical care for amputees.

Harborview, part of UW Medicine, is already nationally recognized for its work with amputees. Thanks to the agreement, workers with amputations can now have their ongoing medical care managed by UW Medicine physicians and staff at the new Center of Excellence.

Traumatic amputations increase the complexity of patients’ medical needs. These cases often involve multiple types of health care providers working together.

"We want these catastrophically injured workers to know that we’re going to be there for them," said Joel Sacks, director of L&I. "By improving the coordination of care, workers with amputations can concentrate on recovery and not feel overwhelmed with details."

Workers will leave the hospital with a discharge plan that carefully coordinates follow-up appointments with specialists. Then the…

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Give Seniors and Veterans the Same 3.9% Raise that Top CEOs Got

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from www.erickingson.com

For only the third time in 40 years, seniors and other Social Security beneficiaries won’t get a cost of living adjustment (COLA) in 2016. Neither will Americans who receive Veterans and SSI benefits.

There’s no benefit adjustment this year for seniors, people with disabilities, Veterans and others. That’s just plain wrong! CEO’s got a raise — seniors deserve one, too.

This is no way to treat the 152,000 Social Security beneficiaries living in the Congressional District represented by John Katko. No way to treat 60 million Social Security beneficiaries across the country, and our Veterans, who have earned these benefits through hard work and sacrifice.

That’s why I’m calling on Rep. Katko to support Elizabeth Warren’s and Tammy Duckworth’s Seniors and Veterans Emergency (SAVE) Benefits Act to give seniors and Veterans a modest one-time payment — an average of about $581. And why I’m calling him on him and Speaker Ryan to pledge that they will oppose all benefit cuts and support a more accurate way of measuring inflation so that seniors are not shortchanged. Will you join me?

Social Security beneficiaries get an average of just $15,936 a year. That represents half or more of the income for two out of three senior beneficiaries. No wonder they can’t afford to see their benefits eaten away by inflation.

We need to rewrite the rules so that seniors and working people aren’t shortchanged while the rich get…

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VT Gov. Shumlin Calls Out Drug Companies for Super Bowl Ad Promoting Opiates

Today’s post was shared by WC CompNewsNetwork and comes from www.workerscompensation.com

Montpelier, VT (WorkersCompensation.com) – After a baffling Super Bowl advertisement promoting a drug to help Americans take more opiates, Gov. Peter Shumlin is calling on the two drug companies that paid for it to pull the ad off the air and instead use the money to fund opiate and heroin prevention and treatment programs. In a letter to the drug makers, the Governor called the ad poorly timed and a shameful attempt to exploit America’s addiction crisis to boost corporate profits.

The minute-long advertisement for opioid-induced constipation (OIC) – a condition brought on by long-term opioid use – comes at a time when America is battling a full-blown opiate and heroin addiction crisis. Gov. Shumlin has placed the blame for that crisis at the feet of the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) and pharmaceutical industry, which together have enabled pain management practices that in 2012 resulted in the issuing of enough opiate prescriptions to give every American their own bottle of pills.

“The irrational exuberance with which opiates are handed out in America is driving the addiction crisis in this country,” Gov. Shumlin wrote in a letter to the drug companies that paid for the ad. “Now is the time to change that, not attempt to further normalize long-term opiate use by advertising a drug to help people take even more opiates…”

The ad was paid for by drug makers AstraZeneca and Daiichi-Sankyo, which make the OIC treatment drug…

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