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J Spinal Disord. 1998 Aug;11(4):277-82.

Results of elective lumbar discectomy for patients involved in the workers' compensation system.

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1
Emory Spine Center, Decatur, Georgia 30033, USA.

Abstract

We compared the outcomes from lumbar discectomy for patients who were workers' compensation claimants and/or who were involved in active litigation with patients who underwent elective lumbar discectomy, but who were not involved with either compensation or litigation. Eighty-two consecutive patients who underwent elective lumbar discectomy by the senior author were identified from 1989 through 1994. Those patients who underwent a primary discectomy with a minimum of 6 months' follow-up were studied. Patients were excluded if a spinal fusion was performed or if a multilevel laminectomy procedure was required. Patients were classified as compensation patients if they were involved in either worker's compensation claims or active litigation at the time of the lumbar discectomy. The compensation group was further divided into three subsets of patients: those involved in active litigation without compensation, those involved in both compensation and litigation, and those pursuing workers' compensation claims without litigation. The control group was comprised of patients who were not in any way involved with compensation or litigation. Outcome assessment and ratings were determined independently by the coauthors, not the primary surgeon. Outcome was based on pain, employment status, analgesic use, and level of activity. Fifty-four patients met the inclusion criteria. Average follow-up for the compensation patients was 40 weeks. Follow-up for the noncompensation patients averaged 51 weeks. Eighty-one percent of our patients in the noncompensation group achieved a good result. Only 1 of 27 patients was categorized as having a poor outcome. Conversely, patients who were actively involved in the compensation and/or litigation process had significantly poorer outcomes, with only 29% of the patients receiving a good outcome evaluation (p = < 0.0002). Legal involvement was associated with poorer outcome in compensation patients (p = < 0.001).

PMID:
9726294
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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