Effect of eliminating compensation for pain and suffering on the outcome of insurance claims for whiplash injury.
BACKGROUND AND METHODS: The incidence and prognosis of whiplash injury from motor vehicle collisions may be related to eligibility for compensation for pain and suffering. On January 1, 1995, the tort-compensation system for traffic injuries, which included payments for pain and suffering, in Saskatchewan, Canada, was changed to a no-fault system, which did not include such payments. To determine whether this change was associated with a decrease in claims and improved recovery after whiplash injury, we studied a population-based cohort of persons who filed insurance claims for traffic injuries between July 1, 1994, and December 31, 1995. RESULTS: Of 9006 potentially eligible claimants, 7462 (83 percent) met our criteria for whiplash injury. The six-month cumulative incidence of claims was 417 per 100,000 persons in the last six months of the tort system, as compared with 302 and 296 per 100,000, respectively, in the first and second six-month periods of the no-fault system. The incidence of claims was higher for women than for men in each period; the incidence decreased by 43 percent for men and by 15 percent for women between the tort period and the two no-fault periods combined. The median time from the date of injury to the closure of a claim decreased from 433 days (95 percent confidence interval, 409 to 457) to 194 days (95 percent confidence interval, 182 to 206) and 203 days (95 percent confidence interval, 193 to 213), respectively. The intensity of neck pain, the level of physical functioning, and the presence or absence of depressive symptoms were strongly associated with the time to claim closure in both systems. CONCLUSIONS: The elimination of compensation for pain and suffering is associated with a decreased incidence and improved prognosis of whiplash injury. (+info)
Whiplash-type neck distortion in restrained car drivers: frequency, causes and long-term results.
An analysis was made of 1176 whiplash-type neck distortions taken from a total of 3838 restrained car driver incident reports. The percentage of whiplash-type neck distortion among injured drivers increased from less than 10% in 1985 to over 30% in 1997. Most occurred in head-on crashes or crashes with multiple collisions; only 15% occurred in rear-end collisions. More than 1,000 questionnaires were sent to the injured to find out about the duration and type of complaints caused by their cervical spine injury. Although only 138 (12%) returned the questionnaire, which may not be a representative sample, a further analysis was carried out. Of the 138, 121 (88%) indicated that they had suffered or were still suffering from their symptoms. The percentages of the various complaints were as follows: pain (74%), tension (6%) and stiffness (5%) in the head (27%), neck (55%) and shoulder (8%). The duration of the complaints was longest after multiple collisions and when the onset of complaints was longer than 24 h after trauma. Women and elderly persons predominated slightly in the group with longer duration of complaints. A correlation between the severity of the accompanying injuries and duration of complaints was found. Lack of adequate follow-up for patients with less severe injuries posed considerable difficulties for this retrospective study. In order to better evaluate this problem, prospective studies are necessary, with documentation including diagnosis, treatments, complaint duration and type. (+info)
How does the purchasing staff of an accident insurance organization seek information about treatment effectiveness?
OBJECTIVES: The objective is to study how the staff who purchase health care services for a large national government accident-compensation system seek information on treatment effectiveness, how they assess the quality of that information, whether they question the information sources they choose, and how familiar they are with the key concepts of evidence-based health care (EBHC). METHOD: Staff (22 out of 34) of the health purchasing division of the New Zealand Accident Compensation Corporation (NZ ACC) were interviewed using eight preformatted questions to which they could provide open and multiple answers. Responses were subsequently codified into typologies for quantitative analysis. RESULTS: Most respondents report that they assess the effectiveness of a treatment by accessing published information (nonhuman sources), by consulting others (human sources), or by both means. They assess the quality of information mostly by consulting others, and the second-highest proportion of responses state that they do not know how to evaluate the quality of information. No clear preference emerges with respect to the types of information needed to determine the effectiveness of treatments. The majority of the staff believes they can access information needed to determine treatment effectiveness through the Internet or information databases such as MEDLINE. Although most said they understand the key concepts of EBHC, only five out of twenty-two were able to accurately describe them. CONCLUSIONS: The findings suggest that there is a low level of awareness among the staff of the NZ ACC regarding the use of evidence and understanding of the key concepts of EBHC. Many surveyed staff members lack the skills or training to directly question information about effectiveness of a treatment. They have little idea of the information required to determine the effectiveness of a treatment, and the majority appears to lack the skills to evaluate the health care literature. (+info)
Redistributive effects of the Swedish social insurance system.
BACKGROUND: Four principles are used to distribute payments via the Swedish social-insurance system in cases of temporary or permanent illness and death. This paper studies the redistributive effects on income of these four principles. METHODS: The analysis is based on aggregate social-insurance data from the 25 municipalities that comprise Stockholm County in Sweden. For nine different types of social-insurance payments based on the four principles, the degree of income redistribution is measured according to concentration indexes and differences between Gini coefficients with social-insurance payments excluded and included. RESULTS: The concentration indexes for payments from the nine social-insurance schemes in total is -0.0469. The Gini coefficient falls from 0.0437 excluding insurance payments (i.e. for income only from gainful work, IGW) to 0.0379 when including insurance payments with income from gainful work (IGW + TP). That is, the Gini coefficient is 15% lower when insurance payments are included. Decomposition by payment shows that the largest redistribution effect on income inequality is made by disability pension. CONCLUSION: Municipalities with low average income are favoured by the Swedish social-insurance system. Payment principles can be ranked according to their redistributive capacity: mix of compensating-lost-income and flat-rate, compensating-lost-income, means-testing, flat-rate, and need-based respectively. The nine social-insurance schemes contribute very differently to income redistribution. Disability pension and sickness allowance contribute most to income redistribution and reducing income inequality. (+info)
Are older drivers actually at higher risk of involvement in collisions resulting in deaths or non-fatal injuries among their passengers and other road users?
OBJECTIVES: With more older drivers on the road, public concern has been expressed about their impact on traffic safety. This study revisited the question of driver age in relation to the risks of older drivers and others sharing the road with them, including pedestrians, passengers in the same vehicle, and occupants of other vehicles. METHODS: Using United States federal data on fatal and non-fatal crashes, injury rates per driver were calculated for different types of road users. In addition, using data supplied by nine insurers, insurance claims per insured vehicle year were examined by driver age. The reference drivers were aged 30-59. RESULTS: For fatal crashes, older drivers' major impact on road users other than themselves was an increase in death rates among their passengers, who also tended to be elderly and thus more vulnerable to injuries (rate ratio (RR) for drivers aged 75+ 2.52; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.39 to 2.66). For non-fatal crashes, drivers aged 75+ had a RR of 1.10 (95% CI 0.98 to 1.24) for involvement in collisions resulting in injuries to other passenger vehicles' occupants compared with 30-59 year old drivers. The oldest drivers (aged 85+) had significant increases in insurance claims for injuries to other road users in crashes in which they were deemed at fault (RR 1.8; 95% CI 1.71 to 1.89). CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that the oldest drivers, a group with low average annual mileage, do pose some increased risks to occupants of other vehicles, and pose the most serious risks to themselves and their passengers. (+info)
Potential risk factors for prolonged recovery following whiplash injury.
A retrospective analysis of insurance data was made of 600 individuals claiming compensation for whiplash following motor vehicle accidents. Three hundred randomly selected claimants who had settled their injury claims within 9 months of the accident were compared with 300 who had settled more than 24 months after the accident. We compared the two groups to identify possible risk factors for prolonged recovery, for which settlement time greater than 24 months was a marker. Variables considered included demographic factors, type of collision, degree of vehicle damage, workers compensation, prior claim or neck disability, treatment and time to settlement. Consulting a solicitor was associated with a highly significant, four-fold increase of late settlement of the claim. A concurrent workers' compensation claim, prior neck disability and undergoing physiotherapy or chiropractic treatment were weakly associated with late settlement. The degree of damage to the vehicle (as indicated by cost of repairs) was not a significant predictor of late settlement. Late settlement may be the direct effect of legal intervention, independent of the severity of the injury. Whilst the financial benefit to the claimant of consulting a solicitor is apparent, the benefit of prolonged disability is not. It may be to the advantage of both insurers and claimants if those likely to proceed to late settlement could be recognised early and their claims settled expeditiously. (+info)
A re-examination of the whiplash associated disorders (WAD) as a systemic illness.
OBJECTIVE: To describe the systemic nature of the illness reported after motor vehicle collisions using data from a large, population based cohort of individuals making an injury insurance claim. METHODS: All subjects who submitted a claim or were treated for whiplash injury following a motor vehicle collision in Saskatchewan, Canada during an 18 month period were examined. Demographics of claimants, collision related data, pre-collision health data, symptom prevalence, and scores on the short form 36 item general health survey (SF-36) were obtained on average within one month post-collision. RESULTS: Of 9006 potentially eligible claimants, 7462 (83%) met criteria for whiplash injury and provided information regarding demographics and injury related symptoms; 45% of these consented to complete the SF-36 at baseline. For most subjects, neck pain was only one of many diffuse and intense symptoms, including, often, low back pain. The range of symptoms, including fatigue, dizziness, paraesthesiae, headache, spinal pain, nausea, and jaw pain, could be interpreted as a systemic disorder. SF-36 scores showed low physical and mental functioning one month post-collision. CONCLUSIONS: What is commonly referred to as whiplash associated disorders (WAD) is best appreciated as a syndrome extending well beyond what can be labelled as a neck injury. More research is needed for a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms involved so that treatment can be directed at the broad spectrum of the illness rather than focusing on finding a focal neck injury. (+info)
Sports medicine in New Zealand.
Sports medicine in New Zealand is characterized by a team approach. Experienced professionals work together to the benefit of athletes, be they elite performers or those in sport for purely recreational purposes. A no-fault accident compensation scheme is used to provide speedy access to treatment services for those injured in sport and also for advice on accident prevention. Recent initiatives include a task force on drugs in sport and the creation of regional sports foundations. Sports medical education is a prominent part of the New Zealand scene. (+info)