There have been a lot of headlines about the growing concern for obesity in the United States. The epidemic is also showing signs of complicating workers compensation, specifically where recovery and returning to work is concerned.
Obese workers who have been injured and are receiving workers compensation benefits are statistically more likely to miss more days of work than co-workers of a healthier weight with the same type of work-related injuries. Those who are overweight are also more likely to end up with a permanent disability according to research.
When obese persons sustain injuries at work, workers compensation cases can be heavily complicated. Doctors may have a more difficult time accessing maximum medical improvement status with the patient. In some case, to ensure recovery, doctors may recommend obese patients undergo surgery to assist with weight loss or to enroll the patient in a weight loss program. These issues can then make the compensation case go on for a longer period of time. Additional research completed by Duke University also found that obese workers filed twice as many workers compensation claims than non-obese workers and the amount for medical expenses were seven times more.
Because obesity in itself can cause medical complications, it can hamper a workers compensation claim. In some cases, patients that have been hurt on the job, require additional surgeries such as knee replacements due to the extra weight they carry and their difficult in healing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said that obesity issues are prevalent for both adults and children across the United States, with some 37.5% of adults clinically obese. In addition to the medical complications from work related injuries, obese workers may also suffer from other issues that complicate injuries further including diabetes, stroke, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer.