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Simple Ideas for a Complex System

Factors that Slow Recovery from a Worker’s Compensation Injury

Factors that slow recovery from a worker’s compensation injury

by Bill Zachry, SCIF Board Member
and Barry Bloom, Managing Principal, The bdb Group

The primary goal for injured workers is a full recovery and prompt return to work.

The primary factors hindering recovery for injured workers are:

  • Lack of prompt reporting of the injury which delays the provision of medical care
  • Lack of a timely and accurate diagnosis
  • A lack of trust or confidence in the quality of treating physician
  • Treatment which does not follow evidence based guidelines
  • A lack of quality communication with the injured workers to explain the injury and treatment plan
  • The lack of commitment from he injured worker to focus on and achieve recovery
  • Lack of support from the employer to provide and support transitional duties (light duties modified duties)
  • Smoking or other tobacco use
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Pre-Existing injury
  • Medication side effects
  • Depression
  • Lack of quality Sleep
    • Many injuries result in pain or immobility which interrupts quality sleep. Additionally, many medications also interrupt quality sleep patterns. Sleep is a necessity for recovery.
  • Diet and liquids
    • Most people underestimate the importance of good diet and adequate liquids in facilitating recovery
  • Failure to engage the faith of the injured worker
    • Many people rely on their faith to deal with crises in their lives. The workers’ compensation system carefully avoids any reference to faith or the use of faith. The claims and medical community should engage the workers and encourage their use of their faith to deal with the physical and emotional results of a work-related injury.
  • Lack of roughage in diet
    • Many prescribed drugs can result in constipation or impair regularity. Some injuries require treatments which may result in increased constipation due to reduced physical effort, stopping a morning cup of coffee or other actions which impact regularity. Surgeries and the accompanying diet changes or also can stop the bowls. Regularity is an important part of daily living and constipation can impact recovery.


Every day there are workers injured on the job. It is difficult enough as an injured worker to deal with getting the medical help you need to get better, combined with income loss and the stress of dealing with being in pain. When you add the factors above along with the injury, you can see how the injured worker can become frustrated and have increased anxiety with the whole claims process.

It is important for adjusters to properly note the issues above, and how they can negatively impact a claim.

If a worker has one or more of the above issues are not doomed. However, chances for recovery are far better if and when we recognize all of the factors hindering recovery and deal with them in a thoughtful manner.

Good claims handling recognizes these factors and engages with the right support team to mitigate the impact. Nurse case managers, sympathetic employers and experienced claims adjusters can help create an engaged injured worker. The results can be amazing.

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