THE PAIN, ENJOYMENT AND GENERAL ACTIVITY SCALE (PEG) AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The California Workers’ Compensation System employs various scales and tests to assist with Injured Workers’ evaluation and treatment.  One of these tests is the Pain, Enjoyment and General Activity Scale (PEG.)

This article will discuss the PEG Scale and how it can be used within the workers’ compensation system.

Why Are Scales Used in General?

Scales can be used for many reasons.   Scales are generally self-reporting. Thus, all that is needed to administer one is a pen, a clipboard, and the questionnaire. Thus, they are a cheap, quick and easy way to extract information from Injured Workers. Scales can show that an injured Worker is credible.  They can show that an Injured Worker is malingering or exaggerating. Scales can show a cry for help.

One way a scale can be used Is by comparing them to prior scales.  When compared, it can show a patient’s assessment of medical improvement or lack thereof.

Scales are employed by medical examiners, treaters and utilization review evaluators to assess the Injured Workers’ disability status, permanent disability, and whether forms of treatment are indicated and should be approved.

In an article discussing PEG, it was noted that “[t]he competing demands of primary care, in which visits are short and pain is only one of several problems warranting attention, make efficiency of assessment a paramount concern.  A balance must be found between feasibility and key characteristics such as reliability, validity, and responsiveness.”  Krebs EE, Lorenz KA, Bair MJ, et al. Development and initial validation of the PEG, a three-item scale assessing pain intensity and interference. J Gen Intern Med. 2009;24(6):733-738. doi:10.1007/s11606-009-0981-1

What Is PEG Scale’s Complete Name?  How Does It Relate to Workers’ Compensation?

The PEG Scale’s full name is the Pain, Enjoyment of Life and General Activity Scale.

California Workers’ Compensation Law employs the AMA Guides to assess permanent impairment.  In the assessment of permanent impairment, Pain is a factor that is considered.  Also, Activities of Daily Living is also a factor.

In sum, the scale overlaps some of these issues.

What Does the PEG Scale Consist Of?

The PEG Scale consists of three questions that are rated from 0 to 10.

What is the Pain Scale’s First Question?

The first question is “what number best describes your pain on average in the past week?”

How is the First Scale Question Answered?

The question is answered in a 0 to 10 scale. 0 being “no pain” to 10 being “pain as bad as you can imagine.”

What is the Second Question of the Pain Scale?

The second question is “what number best describes how, during the past week, pain has interfered with your enjoyment of life?”

How is the Second Question Answered?

The question is answered in a 0 to 10 scale. 0 being “does not interfere” to 10 being “completely interferes.”

What is the Third Question on the Pain Scale?

The third question is “what number best describes how, during the past week, pain has interfered with your general activity?”

How is the Third Question Answered?

The question is answered in a 0 to 10 scale. 0 being “does not interfere” to 10, “completely interferes.”

How is the PEG Scale Scored?

The scale is scored by adding up all three numbers and dividing by 3.

What Is the PEG Scale Specifically Used For?

“This scale can be administered in person at a clinic or hospital, answered via phone interview or personally completed at home. It is a flexible scale that can be used for many scenarios. For example, the PEG scale is often used to determine if a medication is effective; using it for this purpose helps determine an individual’s level of functioning while taking medication(s). Individuals who show a stable level of functioning, with no other factors that suggest a dosage adjustment, a medication taper or a medication change is needed, would then continue on their medication regime.”  Painscale.com

Is There Any Advice to An Injured Worker?

Yes. These scales will be used possibly for two purposes: first, to evaluate your credibility, and  second, to evaluate your improvement with respect to prescription medications and treatment.

Thus, it is best to make your best efforts to accurately answer them.

What If I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

 

ARE INJURED WORKERS SATISIFIED WITH THEIR INDUSTRIAL MEDICAL TREATMENT?  QUALITY WORK-RELATED MEDICAL CARE AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

“I Can’t Get No, Satisfaction”

Devo

California Industrial Medical Treatment is controlled by the Labor Code. Thus, it differs from both traditional Private Medical Care as well as Government Programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Industrial medical care is part of a risk management system designed to provide cost-cutting elements with respect to providing the service.

Researches have looked into Injured Workers’ satisfaction with respect to their treatment.

This article will discuss Injured Worker’s satisfaction with their medical treatment.

What is Industrial Medical Care?

In California, Industrial Medical Treatment is guided by the Labor Code.   The Labor Code contains various treatment limitations.

Medical Control is one limitation. Insurance Company Managed Provider Networks limit the doctors that Injured Workers can choose.

Medical treatment is limited by utilization review of medical treatment requests.  These utilization reviews can deny treatment that does not follow the set algorithms and schedules.

What Is Private Medical Care?

Private Medical Care can come from a variety of sources. There is cash payment in where there is a direct provider patient relationship.  There are personal insurance policies for which the individual purchases the policy directly from the medical insurance company.  Finally, there is employer provided health insurance policies.

What is Medicare?

Per the SSA, “Medicare is [the U.S]… health insurance program for people age 65 or older. Certain people younger than age 65 can qualify for Medicare, too, including those with disabilities and those who have permanent kidney failure.

The program helps with the cost of health care, but it does not cover all medical expenses.”

What Is Medicaid?

Per Medicaid.gov, Medicaid programs [are] designed to provide health coverage for low-income people. This program is separate from Medicaid.

Can Injured Workers have Multiple Insurance Coverages?

Yes. Injured Workers can have multiple coverages at the same time.   It is possible that an Injured Worker can have private coverage, medicare and workers’ compensation at the same time.  For Injured Workers with low income and are on social security disability, they may have medicare, medicaid, and workers’ compensation at the same time.

What was the Study’s Overall Finding? Were There Other Findings?

The study found that “that Workers’ Compensation status is independently associated with dissatisfaction with health care compared with other primary payer groups.” Compton J, Glass N, Fowler T. The Effect of Workers’ Compensation Status on the Patient Experience. JB JS Open Access. 2019;4(2):e0003. Published 2019 Jun 11. doi:10.2106/JBJS.OA.19.00003

The study, however, had other findings of interest as well.

Workers’ Compensation treatment rated lower than Private Insurance and Medicaid.   It did, however, rate at about the same level of satisfaction as Medicare. Compton J, Glass N, Fowler T. The Effect of Workers’ Compensation Status on the Patient Experience. JB JS Open Access. 2019;4(2):e0003. Published 2019 Jun 11. doi:10.2106/JBJS.OA.19.00003.

With respect to mental health issues, workers’ compensation treatment, satisfaction was rated lower than private insurance.   It was however comparable to both Medicare and Medicaid patients. Compton J, Glass N, Fowler T. The Effect of Workers’ Compensation Status on the Patient Experience. JB JS Open Access. 2019;4(2):e0003. Published 2019 Jun 11. doi:10.2106/JBJS.OA.19.00003.

There was one area in which there was some higher level of satisfaction with respect  to industrial medical treatment.   This was when the treatment included surgical authorization.  Patients with Workers’ Compensation who were scheduled for a surgical procedure were more likely to be satisfied with their care.  Patients with surgical authorization have higher levels of satisfaction.  Compton J, Glass N, Fowler T. The Effect of Workers’ Compensation Status on the Patient Experience. JB JS Open Access. 2019;4(2):e0003. Published 2019 Jun 11. doi:10.2106/JBJS.OA.19.00003

What Can Be Done to Improve Care Injured Workers’ Satisfaction?

This author believes that the following items may improve the level of satisfaction of industrial medical care.   First, expanded Managed Provider Networks with more doctors to choose from.  Second, improvement of the utilization review process to allow for greater authorization of treatment.

As noted above, Injured Workers are happy when there are results that occur as part of the treatment.  This is shown in their level of satisfaction with respect to surgical authorization.

What If I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

UTILIZATION REVIEW IN CALIFORNIA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION:  A PERSPECTIVE FOR INJURED WORKERS

For Injured Workers seeking medical treatment for their workers’ compensation claims, Utilization Review (UR) of their Physician’s Requests for Authorization for medical treatment is all too common.   Injured Workers often receive letters denying treatment, modifying treatment, deferring treatment authorization, requesting further information and certifying treatment.  These letters are generated by the Insurance Companies via their Utilization Review process.

This article will briefly discuss the history of Utilization Review, what is Utilization Review, why the workers’ compensation system employs UR, and how an Injured Workers should address UR.

What Is the History of Utilization Review?

“Background Utilization management has been defined by the Institute of Medicine as “a set of techniques used by or on behalf of purchasers of health benefits to manage health care costs by influencing patient care decision-making through case-by-case assessments of the appropriateness of care prior to its provision.”[1] Utilization management is used in an effort to discourage the use of unnecessary or inappropriate medical services, without jeopardizing necessary high-quality care.

The terms “utilization management” and “utilization review” (UR) are used interchangeably in this report. By the late 1980’s, UR had become ubiquitous in health care, effecting virtually everyone with any form of health insurance coverage in the U.S., and many workers’ compensation claims administrators had also begun to use UR as a cost-containment tool.” Utilization Review in California’s Workers’ Compensation System: A Preliminary Assessment July, 2001 Division of Workers’ Compensation Public Health Institute Department of Industrial Relations Berkeley, California State of California [emphasis added]

What is Utilization Review?

“Utilization management is a set of techniques used to manage health care costs through the assessment of the appropriateness of care in individual cases. The primary focus of utilization management is reduction of the use of unnecessary or inappropriate medical services.” Utilization Review in California’s Workers’ Compensation System: A Preliminary Assessment July, 2001 Division of Workers’ Compensation Public Health Institute Department of Industrial Relations Berkeley, California State of California

In layman’s term, managing health care costs saves Insurance Companies money by denying treatment.  Denying treatment leads to less bills. Less bills leads to less costs.

What are the Reasons for Utilization Review?

Medical costs within the workers’ compensation system are driven my multiple factors.  These can include fraud, overuse, and greed.

First, fraud in workers’ compensation could include prescriptions for expensive and unnecessary treatment.

Second, overuse in workers’ compensation involved Injured Workers who were enthusiastic about their treatment and had providers who would enable it. For example, before UR, there were individuals with minor back injuries with open medical awards that would seek chiropractic adjustments 3 days a week in perpetuity.

Third, greed and distrust of medical providers. There is a distrust by insurance Companies of medical providers.   Medical providers may be incentivized to provide treatment to make money versus providing the care that was needed.   For example, epidural injections, at one point in time, became increasingly used.  Arguably, they were done because they were profitable for the providers rather than helpful to the Injured Workers.

How Should Injured Workers Address Utilization Review?

Injured Workers need to address utilization review by choosing treating doctors who are responsive to the UR process.  Further, Injured Workers should be aware of UR denials and the need to file for Independent Medical Review.

An Injured Worker should choose the right treating doctor for UR processes. An Injured Worker should look for treating doctors who understand the utilization review process.   This means that the doctors should understand the forms that need to be filled out to get treatment approval.  This means that the doctors should understand the treatment utilization schedules as to what treatment can be approved and how to request it. Finally, the doctor should be responsive to inquiries from utilization review when they request peer to peer discussions as well as requests for supplemental reports.

Also, Injured Workers need to have treating doctors who will be responsive to the utilization review company’s requests for further information.

What if I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

UPPER EXTREMITY WORKERS’ COMPENSATION SURGERIES: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Studies about workers’ compensation as always of interest to Injured Workers.   A lot of these studies tell us how and why insurance companies, employers and doctors act in particular ways.   A study addressing upper extremity surgeries provides us such insight. The study compared the results of industrial versus non-industrial upper extremity surgeries.

This article will discuss, upper extremity surgeries, issues relating to upper extremity surgeries, and the results of the study.

What Are Upper Extremity Surgeries?

 With respect to upper extremities, there are a variety of surgeries that are done on an industrial basis.  Upper extremity surgeries can range from shoulders to finger tips. Parts operated on can include areas such as the shoulders, biceps, elbows, forearms, wrists, and fingers.

For shoulders and elbows, there operations can include fracture surgeries, total shoulder replacements, shoulder arthroscopies, rotator cuff repairs, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, and elbow arthroscopy.

For the wrist, operations can include fracture surgeries, carpal tunnel releases, wrist arthroscopies, wrist joint replacements and wrist fusions.

How Are Workers’ Compensation Upper Extremity Surgeries Different Than Non-Industrial Upper Extremity Surgeries?

Approval:  Unlike Health Insurance Company approval for surgeries, Workers’ Compensation surgeries are subject to utilization review and independent medical review. Thus, there are guidelines and algorithms that must be met in order for surgeries to get authorized.  This can lead to delays in getting approval.

Medical Providers:  For many Injured Workers, they are constrained to using hand surgeons and upper extremity surgeons within the workers’ compensation insurance medical provider networks. Thus, the quality of the surgeon is subject to the insurance company’s dedication to having good providers.

Total Temporary Disability Benefits: For Injured Workers, they receive benefits is they remain symptomatic. Therefore, it is necessary that the voice all of their problems.

Permanent Disability Benefits: For Injured Workers, they need to be critical of the results of the surgery and be able to describe them.  Therefore, the result is viewed with this mindset.

What Was the Study’s Conclusion?

 The study “found that patients receiving WC[workers’ compensation] had worse postsurgical results after upper extremity surgery and demonstrated less pre- vs postoperative improvement than uncompensated patients regardless of which outcomes were measured. However, this effect was not uniform among different types of outcomes. Functional measures, such as AOM or grip strength, were least likely to demonstrate a significant difference between compensated and uncompensated patients. The same was true in studies that measured pre- vs postoperative improvement rather than only assess patient postoperatively.” Fujihara Y, Shauver MJ, Lark ME, Zhong L, Chung KC. The Effect of Workers’ Compensation on Outcome Measurement Methods after Upper Extremity Surgery: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2017;139(4):923-933. doi:10.1097/PRS.0000000000003154. It was noted that this analysis was aware that compensated patients can result in artificial reduction of the therapeutic effect which may lead to incorrect conclusions. Supra.

The study noted that “.. the effect of WC on surgical outcome is not solely an issue of malingering Americans. Compensation systems that do not incentivise feigning impairment, also observe worse outcomes associated with WC. Rather, this may indicate that increased impairment among workers receiving WC may be a result of psychological effects on patients caused by a sense of victimization or injustice .” Fujihara Y, Shauver MJ, Lark ME, Zhong L, Chung KC. The Effect of Workers’ Compensation on Outcome Measurement Methods after Upper Extremity Surgery: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2017;139(4):923-933. doi:10.1097/PRS.0000000000003154

In sum, it would appear that Injured Workers have poorer post-operative results.   There are factors of income, malingering, psychological effects of victimhood and injustice may be the factors lead to a poorer workers’ compensation result.

Knowing these Results, How Will an Injured Worker Be Treated?

 Insurance Companies, knowing the surgery result may be poor, may want to avoid providing for it.  This can be done in two ways: one, settling the case before surgery, two, contesting the need for the surgery.

Doctors take pride in their work.  Doctors like to have good results.  Therefore, doctors may not thrilled with Injured Workers because there will be some level of dissatisfaction and representations that the surgical result was not optimal.

Employers, like Insurance Companies, may not be happy with surgeries with poor results.  For them, they are faced with a costlier claim as well as possible issues with respect to return to work.   Return to work issues would involve either qualified Injured worker status or the need to provide alternative or modified work.

What if I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

 

ACOEM COVID-19 GUIDELINES AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: INJURED WORKERS WITH COVID-19 AND THEIR TREATMENT: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Medical Treatment Guidelines are important for Injured Workers.   Medical Treatment Guidelines provide instructions to Physicians as to how and what to request as far as treatments and testing.

ACOEM has issued COVID-19 Guidelines. Recently, there were updated COVID Guidelines on 8/19/20.

This article will discuss the ACOEM COVID-19 Guidelines with respect to workers’ compensation.

What Is ACOEM?

ACOEM is the abbreviation for the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.  ACOEM a physician-led organization that focuses on the health of workers, safety of workplaces, and quality of environments.

Why Are ACOEM Guidelines Important?

Per a News Release of 5/27/20 from the California Department of Industrial Relations, notes that “the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) supports this guidance and plans to adopt and incorporate the ACOEM Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guideline into the Medical Treatment Utilization Schedule (MTUS).”

 As An Injured Worker, Why are These Guidelines Important?

The Guidelines are important because they will give you insight as what testing and treatment will be approved on an industrial basis.  Items not recommended by the Guidelines may not be approved by Insurance Company Utilization Review Programs.

What Are the ACOEM Recommended Testing for COVID?

Testing recommended in the ACOEM Guides are PCR testing, Antigen Testing, and Antibody Testing of Blood Serum.   The first two will be recommended.  The third will be subject to possible UR denial. It is to be used for certain purposes.  ACOEM Covid-19 Guidelines, 8/19/20.

What are the ACOEM Recommended Diagnostic Imaging for COVID?

X-Rays are recommended. Note: abnormalities show 10-12 days out from infection.

CT Scans are recommended.  ACOEM Covid-19 Guidelines, 8/19/20.

What Medications that are Recommended or Not Recommended for Use for COVID-19?

Hydroxychloroquine is not recommended for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 after the first three days of symptoms. There is no recommendation for or against use of Hydroxychloroquine in the first three days of symptoms ACOEM Covid-19 Guidelines, 8/19/20.

Chloroquine is not recommended for the treatment of patients with COVID-19 after the first three days of symptoms. There is no recommendation for or against use of Chloroquine in the first three days of symptoms. ACOEM Covid-19 Guidelines, 8/19/20.

Hydroxychloroquine or Chloroquine for Widespread Prophylaxis are not recommended. ACOEM Covid-19 Guidelines, 8/19/20.

Azithromycin is not recommended for the adjunctive treatment of selective patients with more severe COVID-19.  There is no recommendation for or against it use within the first three days. ACOEM Covid-19 Guidelines, 8/19/20.

Favipiravir has: no recommendation for or against the use for COVID-19. ACOEM Covid-19 Guidelines, 8/19/20.

Lopinavir / Ritonavir is recommended in combination therapy but is not recommended as a solitary treatment. ACOEM Covid-19 Guidelines, 8/19/20.

Remdesivir is recommended for the supervised treatment of selected patients with COVID-19. ACOEM Covid-19 Guidelines, 8/19/20.

Interleukin 6- Inhibitors are recommended for the treatment of selected patients with COVID-19. ACOEM Covid-19 Guidelines, 8/19/20.
Convalescent COVID -19 Antibodies have no recommendation for or against the use. ACOEM Covid-19 Guidelines, 8/19/20.

Glucocorticosteroids are provisionally recommended for the treatment of COVID 19, There are other indications of use that may occur in the context of treatment of COVID-19 for example asthma or COPD. ACOEM Covid-19 Guidelines, 8/19/20.

Interferon Beta-1b: recommended adjunctive use is recommended for treatment of selected patients with COVID-19. ACOEM Covid-19 Guidelines, 8/19/20.

Ribavirin is recommended for adjunctive use of ribavirin for treatment of selected patients with COVID-19 ACOEM Covid-19 Guidelines, 8/19/20.

Zinc is recommended for potential prevention of more severe disease well as treatment of patients for COVID-19. ACOEM Covid-19 Guidelines, 8/19/20.

Vitamin D is recommended for potential prevention of more severe disease as well as treatment for patients with COVID-19. ACOEM Covid-19 Guidelines, 8/19/20.

What if I Need Advice?

If you would like a free consultation regarding workers’ compensation, please contact the Law Offices of Edward J. Singer, a Professional Law Corporation. We have been helping people in Central and Southern California deal with their workers’ compensation cases for 27 years. Contact us today for more information.

 

9.3Edward Jay Singer
Edward Jay SingerReviewsout of 22 reviews