DECISION AND ORDER
This case is decided pursuant to Chapter 410 of the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act and Rules of the Division of Workers’ Compensation adopted thereunder.
A contested case hearing was held on June 25, 2008, to decide the following disputed issue:
- Whether multidisciplinary chronic pain management five times per week for two weeks is not reasonably required medical treatment for the compensable injury of _________?
Claimant appeared and was assisted by JT, ombudsman. (Health Care Provider), appeared by and through SK, Ph.D., and was represented by GS, attorney. Carrier appeared and was represented by TR, attorney.
On _________, Claimant sustained a compensable injury to her shoulder, cervical spine and lumbar spine. A hearing officer other than the undersigned found the alleged injury to be compensable. The Independent Review Organization found that the requested service was reasonably required medical treatment. Carrier appealed and relies upon the testimony of the designated doctor.
Texas Labor Code Section 408.021 provides that an employee who sustains a compensable injury is entitled to all health care reasonably required by the nature of the injury as and when needed. Section 401.011(22-a)defines health care reasonably required as “health care that is clinically appropriate and considered effective for the injured employee’s injury and provided in accordance with best practices consistent with: (A) evidence based medicine; or (B) if that evidence is not available, generally accepted standards of medical practice recognized in the medical community.” “Evidence based medicine” is further defined, by Section 401.011(18-a)as the use of the current best quality scientific and medical evidence formulated from credible scientific studies, including peer-reviewed medical literature and other current scientifically based texts, and treatment and practice guidelines in making decisions about the care of individual patients. The Division of Workers’ Compensation has adopted treatment guidelines under Division Rule 137.100. That rule requires that health care providers provide treatment in accordance with the current edition of the Official Disability Guidelines (ODG), and treatment provided pursuant to those guidelines is presumed to be health care reasonably required as mandated by the above-referenced sections of the Texas Labor Code. The initial inquiry, therefore, in any dispute regarding medical necessity, is whether the proposed care is consistent with the ODG.
With regard to mutidisciplinary chronic pain management, the ODG in the Pain Chapter under Chronic pain programs (functional restoration programs):
Recommended where there is access to programs with proven successful outcomes, for patients with conditions that put them at risk of delayed recovery. Patients should also be motivated to improve and return to work, and meet the patient selection criteria outlined below. Also called Multidisciplinary pain programs or Interdisciplinary rehabilitation programs, these pain rehabilitation programs combine multiple treatments, and at the least, include psychological care along with physical therapy (including an active exercise component as opposed to passive modalities). While recommended, the research remains ongoing as to (1) what is considered the “gold-standard” content for treatment; (2) the group of patients that benefit most from this treatment; (3) the ideal timing of when to initiate treatment; (4) the intensity necessary for effective treatment; and (5) cost-effectiveness. It has been suggested that interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary care models for treatment of chronic pain may be the most effective way to treat this condition. (Flor, 1992) (Gallagher, 1999) (Guzman, 2001) (Gross, 2005) (Sullivan, 2005) (Dysvik, 2005) (Airaksinen, 2006) (Schonstein, 2003) (Sanders, 2005) (Patrick, 2004) (Buchner, 2006) Unfortunately, being a claimant may be a predictor of poor long-term outcomes. (Robinson, 2004) These treatment modalities are based on the biopsychosocial model, one that views pain and disability in terms of the interaction between physiological, psychological and social factors. (Gatchel, 2005) There appears to be little scientific evidence for the effectiveness of multidisciplinary biopsychosocial rehabilitation compared with other rehabilitation facilities for neck and shoulder pain, as opposed to low back pain and generalized pain syndromes. (Karjalainen, 2003)
Types of programs: There is no one universal definition of what comprises interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary treatment. The most commonly referenced programs have been defined in the following general ways (Stanos, 2006):
(1) Multidisciplinary programs: Involves one or two specialists directing the services of a number of team members, with these specialists often having independent goals. These programs can be further subdivided into four levels of pain programs:
(a) Multidisciplinary pain centers (generally associated with academic centers and include research as part of their focus)
(b) Multidisciplinary pain clinics
(c) Pain clinics
(d) Modality-oriented clinics
(2) Interdisciplinary pain programs: Involves a team approach that is outcome focused and coordinated and offers goal-oriented interdisciplinary services. Communication on a minimum of a weekly basis is emphasized. The most intensive of these programs is referred to as a Functional Restoration Program, with a major emphasis on maximizing function versus minimizing pain. See Functional restoration programs.
Types of treatment: Components suggested for interdisciplinary care include the following services delivered in an integrated fashion: (a) physical treatment; (b) medical care and supervision; (c) psychological and behavioral care; (d) psychosocial care; (e) vocational rehabilitation and training; and (f) education.
Predictors of success and failure:As noted, one of the criticisms of interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary rehabilitation programs is the lack of an appropriate screening tool to help to determine who will most benefit from this treatment. Retrospective research has examined decreased rates of completion of functional restoration programs, and there is ongoing research to evaluate screening tools prior to entry. (Gatchel, 2006) The following variables have been found to be negative predictors of efficacy of treatment with the programs as well as negative predictors of completion of the programs: (1) a negative relationship with the employer/supervisor; (2) poor work adjustment and satisfaction; (3) a negative outlook about future employment; (4) high levels of psychosocial distress (higher pretreatment levels of depression, pain and disability); (5) involvement in financial disability disputes; (6) greater rates of smoking; (7) duration of pre-referral disability time; (8) prevalence of opioid use; and (9) pre-treatment levels of pain. (Linton, 2001) (Bendix, 1998) (McGeary, 2006)(McGeary, 2004) (Gatchel2, 2005) Multidisciplinary treatment strategies are effective for patients with chronic low back pain (CLBP) in all stages of chronicity and should not only be given to those with lower grades of CLBP, according to the results of a prospective longitudinal clinical study reported in the December 15 issue of Spine. (Buchner, 2007) See also Chronic pain programs, early intervention; Chronic pain programs, intensity; Chronic pain programs, opioids; and Functional restoration programs.
Criteria for the general use of multidisciplinary pain management programs:
Outpatient pain rehabilitation programs may be considered medically necessary when all of the following criteria are met:
(1) An adequate and thorough evaluation has been made, including baseline functional testing so follow-up with the same test can note functional improvement; (2) Previous methods of treating the chronic pain have been unsuccessful and there is an absence of other options likely to result in significant clinical improvement; (3) The patient has a significant loss of ability to function independently resulting from the chronic pain; (4) The patient is not a candidate where surgery or other treatments would clearly be warranted; (5) The patient exhibits motivation to change, and is willing to forgo secondary gains, including disability payments to effect this change; & (6) Negative predictors of success above have been addressed.
Integrative summary reports that include treatment goals, progress assessment and stage of treatment, must be made available upon request and at least on a bi-weekly basis during the course of the treatment program. Treatment is not suggested for longer than 2 weeks without evidence of demonstrated efficacy as documented by subjective and objective gains. Total treatment duration should generally not exceed 20 full-day sessions (or the equivalent in part-day sessions if required by part-time work, transportation, childcare, or comorbidities). (Sanders, 2005) Treatment duration in excess of 20 sessions requires a clear rationale for the specified extension and reasonable goals to be achieved. Longer durations require individualized care plans and proven outcomes, and should be based on chronicity of disability and other known risk factors for loss of function. The patient should be at MMI at the conclusion.
The designated doctor testified that the requested treatment is inconsistent with the ODG because Claimant lacks motivation to return to work and because Claimant has self-limited her condition. Carrier also argues that Claimant's seeking Social Security disability benefits is indicative of Claimant's lack of motivation to return to work. However, Dr. K testified that Claimant meets all of the criteria of the ODG. In contradicting the designated doctor, Dr. K notes that Claimant had "already contacted the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services and is scheduled to begin retraining in order to pursue a job in an office setting as soon as she completes interdisciplinary chronic pain management." Dr. K also finds that none of the nine predictors of failure contained in the ODG are present in Claimant.
Carrier did not meet its burden of proof to overcome the findings of the Independent Review Organization.
Even though all the evidence presented was not discussed, it was considered. The Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law are based on all of the evidence presented.
FINDINGS OF FACT
- The parties stipulated to the following facts:
A.Venue is proper in the (City) Field Office of the Texas Department of Insurance,Division of Workers’ Compensation.
B.On _________, Claimant was the employee of (Employer), when she sustained a compensable injury.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
- The Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation, has jurisdiction to hear this case.
- Venue is proper in the (City) Field Office.
- Multidisciplinary chronic pain management five times per week for two weeks is reasonably required medical treatment for the compensable injury of _________.
Multidisciplinary chronic pain management five times per week for two weeks is reasonably required medical treatment for the compensable injury of _________.
Carrier is ordered to pay benefits in accordance with this decision, the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, and the Commissioner’s Rules. Accrued but unpaid income benefits, if any, shall be paid in a lump sum together with interest as provided by law.
The true corporate name of the insurance carrier is HANOVER INSURANCE COMPANY and the name and address of its registered agent for service of process is
CT CORPORATION SYSTEM
350 NORTH ST. PAUL STREET
DALLAS, TEXAS 785201
Signed this 1st day of July, 2008.
Charles T. Cole