Official Disabilities Guidelines Now Covers Diabetes

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Today’s post comes from guest author Paul J. McAndrew, Jr. from Paul McAndrew Law Firm in Iowa. Formal treatment guidelines under the Official Disabilities Guidelines (ODG) are an effort under the workers’ compensation laws in different states to standardize care among injured workers. Although that sounds like a good thing, as Mr. McAndrew points out, an underlying condition like diabetes can affect an individual’s recovery time from a work injury, which requires healing at an individual, not standardized, rate. At Rehm, Bennett & Moore, we take workers as clients being realistic about where they are with health challenges, including those who have underlying issues such as diabetes. The ODG treatment guidelines by definition are arbitrary, and to see insurance and business interests trying to get them instituted in Nebraska makes me concerned about clients and other workers’ coverage under the workers’ compensation system. Applying arbitrary guidelines like ODG’s to individual situations, such as to workers who have diabetes, is a concern that needs more study before the guidelines are implemented in any more states, including Nebraska.

While diabetes is not a work injury or illness, it can have a serious impact on the rate at which an injured worker recovers. For instance, people with diabetes may have a much harder time healing from a foot or leg injury. The latest edition of the annual Official Disabilities Guidelines (ODG) has been released, including the latest ODG volume on treating patients. ODG Treatment is the nationally recognized standard for medicine in determining the scope and duration of medical treatment in workers’ compensation.

For the first time this year, ODG Treatment includes a chapter on diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, there are nearly 26 million people in the United States who have been diagnosed with diabetes, and an estimated 7 million more people suffering who have not yet been diagnosed. Clearly, the implications of diabetes on workers’ compensation are significant.