Background: The aim of this study was to compile nationally representative statistics describing inpatient hospital care for patients with work-related injuries and illnesses covered under workers' compensation (WC) insurance in the United States.
Methods: Three years of data (1997-1999) from the Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) were used to describe WC inpatient stays with respect to patient and hospital characteristics, principal diagnoses, number and type of procedures provided, total charges, length of stay, and time from admission to administering of the principal procedure.
Results: Approximately 209,139 WC hospitalizations occurred annually, representing 0.62% of all inpatient admissions. The average total charge per WC hospitalization was 14,966 dollars. After adjusting for the type of diagnosis and other factors, WC hospital care was found to involve 13-24% more procedures, have a slightly longer (4%) length of stay, and take 23-54% less time from admission to the principal procedure than inpatient care for comparable diagnoses paid by other sources. Inpatient care for disc and spinal disorders paid by WC had 16% higher charges than similar non-WC cases. Three-year trends showed a steady decline in the number of WC hospitalizations between 1997 and 1999 but a sharp 16% rise in total charges per WC stay.
Conclusions: This research provides an initial foundation for understanding the extent and nature of hospitalized care for injured workers in the US and identifying significant trends in the delivery of care.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.