Impact of COVID-19 on Workers’ Compensation Claims Status and Post-Acute Rehabilitation

Author: David A. Hoyle, DPT, MA, OCS, MTC, National Clinical Director WorkStrategies, Select Medical

At the time of this writing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website indicates the United States is approaching 18 million confirmed COVID-19 cases. Approximately 15% of these (nearly 3 million) are expected to have significant symptoms and approximately 5% of the total positive cases (900,000 individuals) have been hospitalized. Ongoing symptoms vary widely in complaints and duration. Symptom may include shortness of breath, fatigue, cough, headache and joint pain.

Generally, workers’ compensation does not cover routine community spread illnesses like the cold or flu because they cannot be directly correlated to the workplace. However, 17 states have enacted legislation or have executive orders that extend workers’ compensation coverage to include COVID-19 as a work-related illness for some or all workers.  According to the Division of Workers’ Compensation of Florida, through the end of November there were 25,784 accepted indemnity claims for COVID-19 in the state, resulting in more than $46 million in claim costs (medical and indemnity). 

Whether an employee contracted COVID-19 through work or personal exposure, and dependent on the essential job functions of the position, resultant impairments and lingering symptoms may present a barrier to return to work or place individuals at risk for injury. Assuring safe return to work for individuals impacted by COVID-19 may be achieved through appropriate rehabilitation of resultant impairments and fitness for duty testing.

Based on the need to rehabilitate workers recovering from the effects of COVID-19, Select Medical, parent company to Select Physical Therapy, gathered a multidisciplinary team of experts including infectious disease specialists, pulmonologists, physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians and physical therapists who specialize in cardiovascular, pulmonary and neurological rehabilitation. This team developed the Select Medical Recovery and Reconditioning Program, a program designed to assist individuals suffering from residual dysfunction and deconditioning, which is common in those affected by COVID-19, to recover to their maximal level of health and function. It includes a comprehensive multi-system evaluation, including screening for common complications of COVID-19 including low blood oxygen saturation or desaturation, tachycardia, deep vein thrombosis and cognitive deficits, and then a customized reconditioning program that incorporates evidence informed exercise guidelines and monitoring of vital signs in real-time. 

Alan Evans PT DPT, Vice President of Education for Select Medical, states that “Across our Outpatient Division, by the close of 2020, we had enrolled over 1200 patients into the Recovery and Reconditioning Program.  We monitor patient outcome closely, as well as feedback from clinicians trained to deliver the program.  Additionally, we are monitoring and incorporating the rapidly evolving body of evidence pertaining to the clinical sequelae of COVID-19, so that we can continue to optimize the support offered to these individuals.  One key validated outcome tool we are using is the PROMIS Global 10, which currently shows that over an average course of treatment (consisting of 14 visits over 51 days) 81% of patients showed meaningful improvement.  Our outcomes, coupled with a high patient satisfaction index indicate we have positioned Select Medical as a leader in the ability to offer a safe and effective path to recovery to a patient population that is in need of our help.”

The Recovery and Reconditioning Program can help to identify and resolve your employee’s impairments and enable them to become stronger and return to work safely and effectively.

Covid-19 Recovery and Reconditioning Webinar

Select Physical Therapy will be hosting a complimentary one credit hour for CCM, nurses and Florida adjusters on Thursday, February 11 at 12:30 p.m. eastern. To register, please follow the link below:

Register

To learn more, please email Shannon Salamone at ssalamone@selectmedical.com

Select Physical Therapy/NovaCare Rehabilitation/SPNet