Evaluating the effectiveness of the new certificates of capacity in improving outcomes of the management musculoskeletal injuries within the Western Australian workers' compensation system
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Background: On 01 July 2014, WorkCover WA (WCWA) introduced new certiﬁcates of capacity (intervention). The certiﬁcates were designed to help improve the outcome of injuries managed under the Workers’ Compensation (WC) system. Methods: A Before-After study measured effectiveness of the intervention. Cases were accepted WC claims for sprains/strains obtained from WCWA database in two periods, before and after the intervention: 1. January 2013 – December 2013 and ﬁnalised prior to 01 June 2014 (11,278 cases) 2. July 2014 – June 2015 and ﬁnalised prior to 01 January 2016 (10,625 cases) The two periods were compared in relation to return to work status at time of claim ﬁnalisation, the mean, median, range and distribution of claims costs and duration of claims. Results: At the time of claim ﬁnalisation, 87.7% were ﬁt for pre-injury duties in the pre-intervention period compared to 89% post-intervention. 10.8% were ﬁt for restricted duties and 1.5% were unﬁt pre-intervention compared to 8.3% and 2.6% post-intervention respectively. The median and mean claims duration were 110 and 135 days respectively pre-intervention, com- pared to 114 and 137 days post-intervention. The median and mean claims cost were $1233 and $5303 respectively pre-intervention, compared to $1532 and $6712 post-intervention. Conclusion: The ﬁndings suggested that the new certiﬁcates had so far made no impact on claims costs or duration. There had been a small, statistically signiﬁcant increase (1.4% - p < 0.00005) in the proportion of workers resuming pre-injury duties, with a concurrent reduction in workers on restricted duties, but a small, statistically signiﬁcant increase (1.1% - p < 0.00005) in the proportion declared unﬁt for work. Longer term follow up is recommended.
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