What Is Utilization Review in St. Louis Workers’ Compensation?

May 15, 2024Workers' Compensation

What Is Utilization Review in St. Louis Workers’ Compensation_ Image

If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness in St. Louis, Missouri, you may be trying to figure out the complex workers’ compensation system. One aspect of getting workers’ comp benefits that often confuses and frustrates injured workers is utilization review. At Goldblatt + Singer, our St. Louis workers’ compensation lawyers understand the challenges you may face when dealing with utilization review and can guide you through the process.

Understanding Utilization Review

Utilization review (UR) is a process that insurance companies and employers use to evaluate the medical necessity and appropriateness of treatments prescribed for injured workers. In essence, utilization review aims to ensure that the medical care provided to an injured worker is reasonable, necessary, and in line with established medical guidelines.

When an injured worker’s treating physician recommends a specific course of treatment, such as surgery, physical therapy, or medication, the insurance company may subject this recommendation to utilization review. During this process, a third-party reviewer, often a medical professional or a utilization review organization, will assess the proposed treatment plan and determine whether it meets the criteria for approval.

The utilization review process can occur prospectively (before treatment begins), concurrently (while treatment is ongoing), or retrospectively (after you’ve received treatment). The difference between prospective review, concurrent review, and retrospective review lies when in the process of treatment you are in. In each case, the goal is to ensure the injured worker receives appropriate medical care while managing costs and preventing unnecessary or excessive treatments.

How Utilization Review Affects Your Workers’ Compensation

While utilization review serves an essential purpose in the workers’ compensation system, it can also create significant challenges for injured workers. If the utilization review process results in a denial of a proposed treatment, the injured worker may face delays in receiving necessary medical treatment and care, which can prolong their recovery and return to work.

Additionally, the utilization review process can be complex and time-consuming, requiring the submission of detailed medical documentation and justification for the proposed treatment. This can place a significant burden on the injured worker and their treating physician, who must navigate the bureaucratic requirements of the utilization review process while also focusing on the worker’s medical needs.

Sometimes, the utilization review process may result in a dispute between the injured worker and the insurance company. If the injured worker disagrees with the denial of a proposed treatment, they may need to pursue an appeal or seek the assistance of a skilled workers’ compensation attorney to advocate for their rights and necessary medical care.

Utilization Review Process in Missouri

Missouri has specific regulations governing the utilization review process in workers’ compensation cases. Under Missouri law, insurance companies and employers must establish a utilization review program that complies with state requirements and is overseen by a qualified medical professional.

When a proposed treatment is subject to utilization review, the reviewer must consider various factors, including:

  • The medical necessity of the treatment and health care services
  • The appropriateness of the treatment in light of the injured worker’s condition
  • The consistency of the treatment with established health plans, medical guidelines, and standards
  • The cost-effectiveness of the treatment compared to alternative options

If the utilization review process results in a denial of a proposed treatment, the insurance company must provide a written explanation of the decision to the injured worker and their treating physician. This explanation must include the specific reasons for the denial and information on how to appeal the decision.

Challenges in Utilization Review for Workers’ Comp

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Despite the regulations, injured workers in St. Louis may still need help navigating the utilization management review process. Some common issues include:

  • Delays in treatment: The utilization review process can take several days or even weeks to complete, during which time the injured worker may be unable to receive necessary medical care. These delays can prolong the worker’s recovery and return to work, leading to increased costs and frustration for all parties involved.
  • Inconsistent or subjective decision-making: While utilization review aims to be an objective process based on established medical guidelines, reviewers may have differing opinions or interpretations of the criteria. This can lead to inconsistent or subjective decisions that may only sometimes prioritize the injured worker’s medical needs.
  • Limited consideration of unique circumstances: Utilization review often relies on standardized guidelines and protocols, which may only sometimes account for the unique circumstances of an individual injured worker. Factors such as age, pre-existing conditions, or complications may require a more customized approach to treatment that falls outside the scope of traditional utilization review criteria.
  • Burden on treating physicians: The utilization review process often burdens the injured worker’s treating physician, who must provide detailed documentation and justification for the proposed treatment.
  • Lack of transparency: Injured workers may need clarification on the utilization review process, as they have limited information on how decisions are made or how to effectively advocate for their medical needs. This lack of transparency can add to the stress and frustration of an already challenging situation.

Facing Utilization Review with the Help of an Attorney

Unsure of what utilization review in workers’ comp claims are for? Given the complexities and potential challenges of the utilization review process, injured workers in St. Louis must have a strong advocate. An experienced St. Louis workers’ compensation attorney can help you handle the utilization review process and fight for your right to receive necessary medical care.

At Goldblatt + Singer, our attorneys deeply understand Missouri’s workers’ compensation laws and the utilization review process. Our law firm can:

  • Explain your rights and options when a proposed treatment is subject to utilization review decisions
  • Communicate with workers’ compensation insurance companies and utilization review organizations on your behalf
  • Gather and present medical evidence to support the necessity and appropriateness of your proposed treatment
  • Appeal denied treatments and fight for your right to receive the medical services and care you need
  • Explore alternative options for obtaining necessary treatment, such as seeking a second opinion or pursuing an independent medical examination

We understand that the utilization review process can be stressful and overwhelming, especially when you are already dealing with the challenges of a work-related injury or illness. That is why we are committed to providing personalized, compassionate representation to each of our clients, ensuring that you have the support and guidance you need every step of the way.

If you are facing challenges with utilization review in your St. Louis workers’ compensation case, do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Goldblatt + Singer. Call us at (314) 231-4100 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation. We are here to listen to your story, answer your questions, and fight for the medical care and benefits you deserve.

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