BATON ROUGE – Louisiana’s First Circuit Court of Appeal has affirmed a trial court’s ruling that allows the Louisiana Workforce Commission to continue implementing new guidelines for the medical treatment of injured workers that ensure care conforms to national best practices.
The guidelines took effect in July and so far have saved an estimated $8.5 million in costs that are typically incurred when workers' compensation medical disputes go to court. The use of the guidelines has shortened disputes over medical care to an average of five days, rather than the 15 months it used to take before July, when those cases were resolved in court.
The LWC’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration in 2011 established new medical treatment guidelines for work-related injuries designed to improve care for injured workers while saving employers millions of dollars by containing medical costs. The Louisiana Association of Self Insured Employers challenged the new guidelines and sought a preliminary injunction to block the guidelines from being implemented.
The First Circuit affirmed a previous ruling by District Judge Michael Caldwell denying LASIE’s request for a preliminary injunction. The appeals court ruling means the guidelines will remain in effect while LASIE’s legal challenge proceeds in state district court in Baton Rouge.
“This is a victory for injured workers because they now receive prompt, consistent care,” said LWC Executive Director Curt Eysink. “The medical guidelines are helping employers by eliminating costs and delays associated with settling medical disputes in court.”
The treatment guidelines are evidence-based and represent the best standards of care and practices for the medical treatment of injured workers. The guidelines cover medical treatment for the spine, upper and lower extremities, neurological and neuromuscular disorders, and pain.
State legislation passed in 2009 approved the establishment of the medical treatment guidelines to ensure that injured workers get high quality, efficient and timely medical treatment, which in turn would allow a faster return to work and reduced costs for employers and insurers.
The guidelines are available on the LWC website, www.laworks.net. For more information, contact Sue Newman, OWCA Medical Services manager, at (225) 342-7587, or by email at SNewman@lwc.la.gov.
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