What’s the Real Cost in Delaying Treatment?

by | Apr 26, 2019 | Employee Health Medical Management, Injury Case Management, Workers Compensation

When an injury occurs with an employee, it should be a straight forward process.

The worker injures his back. He tells his employer. They fill out an incident report, and provide that information to the insurance carrier, who arranges for him to see a doctor. While it should be that simple, many times it’s not.

Let’s take a look at medical mismanagement and what it ultimately costs a company when treatment is delayed.

The Cost of Medical Mismanagement

Continuing to work while you’re injured is a recipe for disaster, and for two major reasons:

  • Delayed treatment can cause a minor and seemingly ‘innocent’ injury to become worse when it’s not treated within 48 hours
  • Delayed injury reporting can increase workers’ comp claims up to 50%

Unfortunately, many employees will ‘push through’ a minor sprain or strain in hope that it will heal on their own.

“Any reporting delays inhibit our ability to start the employee on the road to recovery and may allow a minor injury to fester and become a serious and costly problem,” Jim Wucherpfen, vice president of workers compensation at insurer Travelers Cos. Inc., said in a statement to Business Insurance.

How to Improve Medical Costs Per Injury

When an injury isn’t reported right away, it can lead to a costly outcome for both the employer and employee, such as:

  • Lost time
  • OSHA recordables
  • Indirect costs that can include: lost productivity, training of a replacement and overtime pay for others who have to ‘pick up the slack’ while the injured is out on leave.

Take a simple strain injury.

If the employee is immediately treated for the sprain, they can begin their healing process with first aid measures and return to work in an expedited manner. Left untreated, the employee’s injury may become worse. This often results in unnecessary testing, work releases, specialty referrals and lost time away from work.

A delay in treatment by even one day can increase the risk of an incident having a recordable outcome by 60 percent.

As the employer, encourage employees to report their injuries as soon as possible.

In many cases when the injury is reported within 24 hours, it can be treated at the first-aid level. This reduces time spend away from work and saves the employer in healthcare costs.

What does it do for the employee, other than getting back to a speedy return to work?

It sends the message that they’re being cared for. In this way, everyone comes out ahead.

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