Workers’ Comp Disability Guidelines Withdrawn from Guidelines.gov

July 7, 2016

The Work Loss Data Institute (WLDI) has withdrawn its Official Disability Guidelines from the National Guideline Clearinghouse, a public resource for evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

WLDI describes the ODG as “the most comprehensive and up-to-date medical treatment and return to work guideline worldwide, providing evidence-based decision support to improve as well as benchmark outcomes in workers’ comp, non-occupational disability and general health insurance.”

WLDI had offered a portion of its ODG for free on the National Guideline Clearinghouse website, Guidelines.gov, but it was not kept to date on the site.

WLDI said the NGC review team found it too difficult to keep up with “continuous updates to a large number of topics and recommendations to the ODG.” Therefore, WLDI said, the version on the Guidelines.gov site “misrepresented the ODG.”

In the company’s announcement, WLDI President Phil Denniston said: “Commercial guidelines are successful at improving outcomes because they are comprehensive and up to date, and that is our mission. For that reason, we will not be submitting future guidelines to NGC.”

Both Oklahoma and Texas use the ODG for drug formulary and treatment guidelines in their respective workers’ compensation systems.

The Oklahoma Insurance Department did not respond to a request for comment on WLDI’s decision to withdraw the ODG from Guidelines.gov. But Oklahoma adopted the ODG in March 2012 and as of January 2016 workers’ comp lost-cost rates had declined by 37.2 percent since that time. The state also enacted widespread reforms to its workers’ comp system in 2013.

In announcing the latest rate drop in September 2015, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak noted said rate reductions over three years demonstrate “that reforms to the workers’ compensation process have delivered a system that is efficient and fair to both workers and employers.”

In an emailed statement, the Texas Department of Insurance commented: “We do not expect any immediate impact on the drug formulary or treatment guidelines used in the Texas workers’ comp system. There are a number of other good, evidence-based treatment guidelines available, both on and off the clearinghouse. TDI-DWC staff will look into the reasons for the ODG’s withdrawal from the National Guideline Clearinghouse and determine our next steps.”

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