Skip Navigation LinksHome > May 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 5 > Temporal Relationship Between Lumbar Spine Surgeries, Return...
Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31828515e6
Original Articles

Temporal Relationship Between Lumbar Spine Surgeries, Return to Work, and Workers' Compensation Costs in a Cohort of Injured Workers

Lavin, Robert A. MD; Tao, Xuguang MD, PhD; Yuspeh, Larry BA; Bernacki, Edward J. MD, MPH

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Objective: Determine the relationship between time to surgery, lost time, and insurance costs.

Method: A cohort of 582 claimants undergoing lumbar spine surgery (1999 to 2002) in the state of Louisiana was observed for 7 years.

Results: The shorter the time interval between injury and first lumbar surgery, the lower the cost and time lost from work. Average days lost from work and claim costs for 42% of those undergoing early lumbar surgery did not differ from injured workers who lost time from work for claims not involving lumbar surgery. Claim cost for the remaining 58% who had delayed surgery was 5.7 times greater than that for the early surgery cohort.

Conclusion: The decision to perform lumbar surgery is not necessarily associated with high claim costs or longer time out from work, provided that the determination to operate is early.

©2013The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine


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