Reducing barriers that prevent workers from receiving immediate medical attention after a work-related injury may decrease the length of time off of work for disability, suggests the California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). The DWC findings are based on a study focusing on access to medical care for injured workers.
The study was conducted by the University of Washington, Seattle and surveyed around 1,000 injured workers in 2008. While 4 out or 5 injured workers were satisfied with their medical care, those that were not attributed their unsatisfactory experience to barriers, such as delays or denials of care.
Workers who faced any access barrier had triple the number of missed work days than workers with access to care
Workers who faced a barrier were generally:
- Had a back or neck injury
- Had multiple injuries
- Had difficulty understanding English
The study also found that many of the workers who were out on disability longer due to barriers, also tended to have an attorney for their case.
DWC acting Administrative Director Carrie Nevans suggests evaluating how to improve the bilingual outreach programs for injured workers to communicate available services and resources.