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What Are The “Official Disability Guidelines” And How Do They Affect My Work Comp Claim In Arizona?

WHAT ARE THE “OFFICIAL DISABILITY GUIDELINES” AND

HOW DO THEY AFFECT MY WORK COMP CLAIM IN ARIZONA?

By Chad Snow, Founding Partner/Attorney

In 2013, the Arizona legislature, upon strong lobbying by the insurance industry, approved a set of evidence based medicine “guidelines” to be used in determining what treatment could be given in work injury cases. 

The industrial commission of Arizona was tasked with implementing those guidelines and in 2015 adopted the “official disability guidelines” as the approved treatment guidelines in any cases involving chronic pain in Arizona.  The “ODG” as it is known, is the product of a for-profit company that sets treatment protocols for physicians treating a variety of injuries.  Insurance carriers love it and lobbied hard for it because it significantly reduces costs paid out as treatment for injured workers. 

Physicians are not fond of ODG because it limits their ability to tailor treatment plans to individual patients.  As an attorney who has handled thousands of cases in Arizona, I have frankly seen very little impact from the implementation of the ODG in Arizona.  However, that may all change as the word on the street is that the insurance industry will be trying to expand the use of the ODG from just cases involving chronic pain to all work injuries in Arizona. 

There are many detractors to the ODG.  Several federal agencies and other organizations have either stopped using it altogether or limited its application because of numerous flaws.  Time will tell whether “evidence based medicine” is just a passing fad or the wave of the future.  

For more information on Workers’ Compensation or Social Security Disability, please contact Snow, Carpio & Weekley toll-free at 855-325-4781 or visit our website at www.workinjuryaz.com. We serve the entire State of Arizona and have offices located in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and Lake Havasu City.