Will Workers’ Compensation in Richmond cover your back surgery?

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The Bureau of Employees’ Compensation in Richmond enacted a new regulation in 2018 to limit access to opioid prescriptions for employees with job-related back injuries. If you have questions regarding the implications of this regulation or how to get the benefits you need, a Richmond, VA workers’ compensation lawyer can help. Schedule a free appointment to find out how they can help you. 

What is covered by the compensation?

Work-related back injuries are covered by workers’ compensation, however, the BWC normally requires completion of alternative therapy before granting surgery. Workers’ compensation standards require injured workers to receive alternative therapy for at least 60 days before considering spinal fusion surgery unless it is considered required in extreme circumstances. Physical therapy, chiropractic care, rest, ice, anti-inflammatory drugs, and spinal injections are examples of alternative therapies. Benefits for surgery and painkiller prescriptions are usually awarded by BWC only after the alternative treatment period has been completed.

What are the exceptions?

The 60-day alternative treatment guideline for back surgery is subject to exclusions in circumstances involving significant problems such as tumors, spine fractures, infections, functional neurological impairments, acute back trauma, and other catastrophic spinal occurrences.

Doctors are encouraged not to provide opioid drugs during the 60-day period, with the goal of reducing dependency on post-surgical opioids linked with addiction. Advocates for the guideline anticipate that fewer back surgery cases will result in lower demand for addictive medicines.

Non-invasive therapies have proven better long-term outcomes for injured employees with persistent back pain than surgical therapy, according to supporters of the 60-day waiting period. Workers who have spinal fusion surgery are more likely to have failed back syndrome, persistent opioid use, greater disability, the need for more procedures, and psychological problems.

Critics of the BWC’s 60-day waiting time for alternative therapy are concerned that it may prevent wounded employees from accessing vital treatment, causing undue suffering and potentially worsening their condition. The prolonged healing period following conservative treatment may result in these folks missing more work.

Final thoughts:

Seek legal counsel if your workers’ compensation claim is refused or if you need assistance with your initial application. A skilled attorney  in Richmond can assist you in gathering the relevant documents and constructing a compelling case to support your job-related back injury compensation claim. Get in touch with a workers’ compensation attorney today in Richmond for more information.