Evidence-Based Medicine: New Methods Limiting Care for Injured Workers?

Many states are looking for ways to cut costs during this current and seemingly never-ending recession. Budgets get slashed as every dollar becomes more and more important. A recent trend that has captured the attention of many states is the use of evidence-based medicine to treat workers’ compensation claims.

You may be completely unfamiliar with the concept of evidence-based medicine. Basically, when a person is injured on the job, the injury is treated based on specific guidelines created by organizations that have compiled data that examines past examples of these injuries. Did you break your arm? Here is your treatment plan. Once you hit the end of the plan, you’re able to return to work. This will severely limit the amount of workers’ compensation that will be necessary, and will also reduce the amount of time that an injured worker will need to recover. Sounds great, right?

Be careful what you wish for, as the concept presents serious challenges for injured workers. When evidence-based medicine becomes the way a state decides to treat a workers’ compensation injury, the government is put in the position of what treatment is best, not a doctor. This would drastically limit the fundamental rights that we have in deciding the type of care we can receive when we are injured.

Evidence-based medicine may very well save dollars and cents now, but what happens when workers need additional care five or ten years down the road because their injuries were not properly treated? And who decides these treatments? Many of the faces behind the evidence-based evidence movement are high-ranking insurance company officials, who have a vested interest for settling claims as inexpensively as possible.

The bottom-line philosophy of evidence-based medicine is that every injury is the same. It’s not. Each person is different, and each injury will affect them differently. It can take a lot longer for some people to recover from their injuries, even if they all receive the same treatment.

Michigan does not currently use the evidence-based medicine approach, but that does not mean that it will never happen. With more and more states relying upon the guidelines, it is apparent that they are gaining widespread acceptance in the medical community, despite being possibly the worst thing to ever happen to the workers’ compensation system.

If you have been injured on-the-job, speak to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in your area to understand the options available to you.