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Jul
23

Well, I got that one wrong…COVID-related treatment delays

Didn’t happen.

That’s the result of a just-published study conducted by Olesya Fomenko PhD, one of WCRI’s talented researchers.

Not only were there no delays during the first half of 2020, when the pandemic was raging – but there was a slight improvement in waiting times for some services.  This may have been due to non-COVID patients actively avoiding medical treatment facilities (that’s my speculation, not Dr Fomenko’s).

This was true even in states hit hard in the early months of the pandemic; of note the waiting time for surgeries decreased by 1/3.

The same held for pretty much all injury types; soft tissue injuries, fractures, lacerations, you name it, none had delays in treatment. 

The report documents decreases in emergency room visits in Q2 2020 for lost time claims – again this may well be due to patient reluctance to go where COVID may be present. It’s also a reminder that all employers should do everything they can to ensure workers with non-emergent injuries DO NOT SEEK TREATMENT AT ERs.

ERs are way more expensive than occ med clinics, often exhibit abusive billing practices, don’t understand workers’ comp, and are where sick people go.

Other findings…

Non-COVID claims plummeted in the 27 study states during Q2 2020…

There was little difference in the type of injuries incurred during COVID’s worst times…

There’s a lot more in the 63 page report, but my main takeaway is this – I was pretty sure there would be treatment delays – and that was wrong.

Sure, logically my assumption made sense; people would avoid care because they were scared of being near COVID patients. And that was certainly true for most medical care; visits to doctors’ offices dropped 70-80%.

But that “logical” assumption didn’t take into account that when you get a nasty cut, or fall off a ladder, or break your leg, you need medical care.

What does this mean for you?

Question your assumptions.


6 thoughts on “Well, I got that one wrong…COVID-related treatment delays”

  1. Telemedicine also played a big role during COVID. While it’s been around for years, there had historically been low utilization. Telemedicine and Tele-PT spiked during COVID to help with the continuum of care and may have shortened wait times as well.

    1. Thanks for the note Terry. I haven’t seen conclusive data re the use of tele-services; no question take-up increased a lot, but as you note that was from a very low baseline.

      I’m a big fan of tele-services, but it has yet to make a persistent dent in medical care for comp patients.

      be well Joe

  2. Good on you for owning when you’re wrong. Not a lot of that in journalism/blogging.

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates

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