Company Doctors and Nurses May be Underreporting Injuries to Protect Companies From Having to Pay North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Benefits

November 24, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

According to the Charlotte Observer, a recent report released by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirmed that many North Carolina workers’ compensation injuries are going unreported. The GAO found that company doctors and nurses often feel pressure from their employers not to report employee injuries.

The Observer cited the following extremely disturbing statistics:

Over a third of practitioners — in a survey of over 500 healthcare workers — were asked by employers to provide ‘insufficient treatment’ to injured workers so that injuries would not appear on company logs.

Over half of those surveyed were encouraged by their employers to ‘downplay injuries or illnesses.’

Over two-thirds reported that they knew that many employees fear that they would be disciplined if they reported getting injured.

The GAO report also found that many plants actively discouraged workers from reporting their injuries by sponsoring ‘prizes or bonuses’ for plants/branches that went for long stretches without recording injuries in their log books.

The Charlotte Observer article quoted the executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) saying that: ‘If healthcare professionals are being asked to not record injuries properly, then we have a pretty broken system.’

Could this systemic non-reporting of injuries be responsible for why the state has seen a dramatic decrease in claims over the past two years? And, if so, could this under-reporting also explain why employers were able to achieve a nearly 10% slash in their workers’ comp insurance rates for 2010.

As this blog reported in a separate entry, the state’s insurance commission recently approved a slash of 9.6% for North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance policies — a decision that’s projected to yield savings to employers of around $120 million annually. If these savings came as an indirect result of denying/ignoring legitimate injury claims, then the individuals charged with maintaining a fair benefits program need to make adjustments to the system to ensure equality and transparency.

If you got hurt at work — and you failed to report the injury out of fear of retaliation; or if the company doctor or nurse did not take your injury seriously — you may greatly benefit from a free consultation with a respected North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney.

More Web Resources:

OSHA

GAO


Charlotte Observer, Study: Workplace injuries are going hidden; Nov 17, 2009

 
 

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