Study Finds Nearly 84% of Injured Pa. Workers Satisfied with Medical Care

On behalf of Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell, Labor & Industry Secretary Stephen Schmerin announced that more than 83 percent of injured workers report that they are satisfied with the medical care they receive for treatment of their work-related injuries.

An independent medical access study conducted in late 2004, showed 83.3 percent of respondents reported they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the medical care received following a workplace injury.

“Last year the number of workers injured on the job dropped to a four-year low,” Schmerin said. “Much of this improvement can be attributed to the growing number of employers establishing certified Workplace Safety Committees. Fortunately, the majority of workers that do get injured are receiving a high level of medical treatment. This means we are moving in the right direction,” Schmerin added. “Meanwhile, L&I has increased efforts to educate employers and insurers to make Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation system more efficient. This study shows the efforts paid off – payment time to
medical providers is improving and workers are receiving the quality of care they deserve. We will work to ensure that these trends continue in the future.”

The study, mandated by amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act in 1993, is conducted annually by TLG Research Associates of New Britain, Pa., for the state Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Findings of the study include:

* 83.3 percent of injured worker respondents reported they were satisfied or very satisfied with medical care received. There is no
significant change in the level of satisfaction from the 2003 study.

* 89.2 percent reported they received access to treatment within 48
hours of their injury, up from 86.5 percent in 2003.

* 86 percent of injured workers indicated that they stayed with the
posted panel provider for the full course of treatment.

* 82.5 percent reported WC care was as good as health care from other sources, compared to 81.9 percent in 2003.

* 66.5 percent reported the doctor discussed treatment options with
them, compared to 64.5 percent in 2003.

* 66.3 percent reported they were satisfied with timing of return to work, compared to 61.4 percent in 2003.

Like the 2003 results, the study found that late payment of bills was the major concern among health care providers. However, this year’s study noted that improvements are being made. For the first time, providers reported as many commendations for those that paid on time as there were citations for chronically late payers.

The surveyors received 2,012 responses from a mailing to 10,000 randomly chosen injured workers.

The study recommended: 1) while efforts by the state Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to educate employers, insurers, health care providers and repricers regarding medical coverage are paying off, more needs to be done; and 2) the bureau should continue addressing the late payment issue with insurers/self-insured employers in a systematic way.