A retrospective-cohort investigation (N = 245) utilizing a review of patient medical records and costs accrued through the Workers' Compensation Fund of Utah.
To replicate a previous study of compensation and medical costs
in compensated lumbar fusion
patients, to identify changes in costs across time, and to identify biopsychosocial
variables predictive of current costs.
Summary of Background Data.
Previous studies have demonstrated that medical costs
associated with lumbar fusion
have been rising drastically. It is unclear whether rising fusion costs are occurring in compensation populations. Prior studies have also demonstrated that costs can be predicted on the basis of presurgical biopsychosocial
variables, and there is a need to determine whether such variables are still relevant.
A retrospective review of patient medical records and compensation and medical costs
paid by the Workers' Compensation Fund of Utah was performed.
Since the mid-1990s, medical costs
for compensated lumbar fusion
patients in Utah have risen approximately 174%, whereas compensation costs
have increased roughly with the pace of inflation. Wage and assignment to nurse case management predicted compensation costs
, whereas assignment to nurse case management also predicted medical costs
Conclusion. Medical costs
among compensated Utah patients receiving lumbar fusion
have risen dramatically since the 1990s, whereas compensation costs
have not. Biopsychosocial
variables continue to be predictive of these costs, although to a more modest degree than in prior studies. Further investigations should look at other factors leading to increased medical costs