A Less Friendly Casper


I’m linking to a recent article in The New York Times, written by Austin Frakt and Jonathan Skinner, entitled “Medical Mystery: Why is Back Surgery So Popular in Casper, Wyoming?”


It focuses on a population of active people, ski resorts, outdoor laborers, sports enthusiasts, etc., not unlike our workers’ compensation population. Many of our claimants are roofers, assemblers, factory workers, and others who use their physical abilities to make a living.


The article analyzes the high rate of surgeries that occur in Casper as opposed to many other areas of the country. It looks at Medicare reimbursement rates, existence of private insurance, and recent evidence that a year after the injury, results are very similar in those who had surgery and those who didn’t.


It seems to me that most of their analysis misses the point. Back surgeons don’t make money unless they operate. So they operate. Not so complicated, is it?


Back surgeons, like most of their patients, don’t make money unless they show up for work. As glamorous as it may sound, being a surgeon comes with the downside that you must be standing over an operating table in order to make a living. They are basically smart, well-educated, gifted, and well-meaning piece workers. They spent many years and dollars learning how to fix your problems through surgery, so that’s what they do.


However, there are some critical tools available to keep you and your claimants from having unnecessary surgeries. One is evidence-based medicine where surgical decisions are based upon science rather than economics. The second is treatment guidelines where science has been codified to help us understand what generally works and when. And third is utilization review which applies the two previous items to actual cases.


Surgery can be good, but not necessary. What does the science say? This is what we do. We can save you surgeries, complications and money.
Call us. We can do better.
William Faris, JD
Chief Executive Officer

Posted in OMCA