The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation recently began requiring waiting period for employees who suffer back injuries on the job before they are allowed to consider surgical options. According to Business Insurance, a workplace risk management news and information website for executives, the new rule requires workers who suffer on-the-job back injuries receive 60 days or more of comprehensive care before back surgery can be explored as a treatment option. Comprehensive care can include:
Is It Safe to Make Injured Workers Wait to Undergo Back Surgery?
There are exceptions to the waiting period for back surgery, such as injuries involving functional neurological deficits, infections, tumors and spinal fractures. Medical experts that Business Insurance consulted for their article believe that this new rule does not violate best medical practices and will not be challenged legally.
Will the Waiting Period Help Prevent Injured Workers from Abusing Painkillers?
The purpose of the waiting period is to prevent workers from undergoing lumbar fusion surgery and using opioid painkillers unnecessarily. Per the BWC’s chief medical officer, back injury victims who undergo lumbar fusion surgery often end up worse off than those who do not undergo that type of treatment, including becoming addicted to painkillers, developing failed back syndrome and suffering increased disability.