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Iowa Orthop J. 1999;19:111-21.

Contested claims in carpal tunnel surgery: outcome study of worker's compensation factors.

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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Des Moines, USA.


We retrospectively analyzed the importance of factors relating to worker's compensation for 273 wrists in 211 consecutive patients who underwent primary carpal tunnel release. Patients were divided into three groups: non-work related, worker's compensation-uncontested, and worker's compensation-contested. Contested claims were those in which the worker's compensation carrier denied authorization for surgery, and in which such authorization was given following intervention by a plaintiff's attorney.


there were no statistically significant differences in postoperative return of grip strength and in postoperative return to work intervals in comparing groups I and II. However, the contested worker's compensation patients were much less likely (and much slower) to return to light duty and to return to full duty work. Return of grip strength was slower and less complete in this group as well. Within worker's compensation, a contested claim portends a poorer prognosis. Uncontested worker's compensation claimants have nearly as good a prognosis as non-compensation patients.

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