An analysis of more than 7,000 workers’ compensation claims involving patients with one or more comorbid conditions suggests these comorbidities may have contributed to the claims’ increased duration, higher medical costs, higher temporary total disability (TTD) days, and higher rates of litigation.

Representatives from Harbor Health Systems, a One Call Care Management Company based in Newport Beach, Calif, presented their analysis recently at the National Workers’ Compensation & Disability Conference in New Orleans, according to a media release from Harbor Health Systems.

In their analysis, Harbor Health Systems researchers evaluated seven comorbidities—addiction, diabetes, hypertension, mental health, obesity, tobacco use, and multiple comorbidities—and how they measured metrics such as total claims costs incurred, total medical costs incurred, claim duration, TTD days, litigation rate, recidivism, and surgery rate.

The researchers note in the release that duration of claims involving multiple comorbidities increased by 76%, those involving addition increased 67%, and those involving obesity increased 55%. Total costs increased 341%.

In addition, among claims with multiple comorbidities, TTD days increased by 285%; among addiction-related claims, TTD days increased by 274%.

In terms of litigation rates, claims with multiple comorbidities increased approximately 147%, addiction-related claims increased 224%, and mental health-related claims increased by 258%.

Surgery rates also increased when comorbidities were involved: 123% for those involving multiple comorbidities, and 140% for those involving obesity.

“Because of the higher costs and increased duration associated with claims involving comorbidities, it is essential to proactively manage claims and guide these more complex cases to the physicians with the best track record and highest performance scores,” notes Linda Lane, president of Harbor Health Systems, in the presentation.

“By accurately scoring physicians who frequently see claims with comorbidities, we’re able to ensure the injured worker gets the best quality care throughout the recovery process, helping him or her return to work faster, reducing overall claims costs,” she adds.

[Source(s): Harbor Health Systems, Business Wire]