Effects of the New York State Workers Compensation Board Medical Treatment Guidelines on Return to Work

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Objective:Examine the association between New York State Workers’ Compensation Medical Treatment Guidelines (Guidelines) adherence and return-to-work after occupational low back injuries. Assess adherence to Guidelines by examining diagnostic and treatment utilization.Method:Retrospective chart review of cases. Outcomes of interest were lost time duration and diagnostic/treatment utilization rates. Time to event analyses performed using Kaplan–Meier plots and Cox proportional hazard model.Results:Care received after implementation of Guidelines resulted in decreased lost time. Treatment rates were consistent, while diagnostic imaging use was inconsistent with Guidelines recommendations.Conclusions:Guidelines use positively influenced return-to-work after acute occupational low back injuries. Inconsistencies in following Guidelines were observed for diagnostic tests, having a potential paradoxical effect on lost time. Further studies are necessary to test for additional hypotheses.

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