Evidence-Based Medicine Coming to Michigan Workers’ Compensation?

Many states are making major modifications to existing laws in an effort to find ways to save money. With so many agencies struggling to afford to pay for its programs, many benefits are being reduced. In Michigan, the workers’ compensation system recently underwent drastic changes, and additional modifications may soon follow.

The state is currently considering adopting an “Evidence-Based Medicine” approach to treating injured workers. This will have a major impact on injured workers throughout the state, and could lead to potential problems in the future.

Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is an approach being used by several other jurisdictions in their workers’ compensation systems. Under the EBM plan, individuals injured on-the-job see a doctor to discuss their treatment options. Once the doctor has diagnosed the injury or illness, he or she will look to the established “treatment guidelines.” These guidelines carefully lay out how the injury should be treated, and also the amount of time that the injury will need to heal.

Unfortunately, there is little to no room for doctor discretion with treatment plans. Each injury, as well as each individual, will have a different recovery time. Certain methods of treating an injury may not have the desired effect, and require additional treatment. The guidelines will not take this into account at the time of the injury, which may lead the employer to wonder why the employee has not returned to work in the specified amount of time.

Additionally, EBM treatment plans may not adequately treat all of the injuries that an employee suffers. This could lead to future medical issues for employees, causing more time out of work.

Perhaps most concerning is the way the guidelines are established. Major insurance companies have provided significant input into the creation of treatment plans. Insurance companies look to resolve cases with as little impact on the bottom line as possible. Quick and cheap may mean long-term health concerns for injured workers.

If you have questions about an on-the-job injury, contact a workers’ compensation attorney in your area to understand what you can do about your situation. It is important to discuss your concerns as soon as possible, as any delay may result in some options being unavailable.