California Workers’ Comp Hospital Stays Decline as COVID Affects Quantity and Types of Admissions

October 29, 2021

The latest update to California Workers’ Compensation Institute research on California workers’ compensation inpatient hospital stays shows the number of injured worker hospitalizations fell 17.2% in 2020, bringing the total decline since 2010 to 47.2%.

Using hospital discharge data from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development from 2010 through 2020 inpatient stays, CWCI compared the volume and types of inpatient hospitalizations paid under workers’ comp to those paid by Medicare, Medi-Cal and private coverage.

Since 2010, the number of inpatient discharges in the state declined steadily for each of the four payer groups studied except Medi-Cal, where enrollment and the number of hospitalizations surged following enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2014, according to CWCI.

Throughout the 11-year study period, workers’ compe has consistently represented the smallest share of the hospital stays, with injured workers accounting for only 0.4% of inpatient discharges in each of the past four years compared with 0.5% from 2014 to 2016 and 0.6% from 2010 to 2013.

Prior CWCI studies have found that numerous factors contributed to the decline in workers’ comp inpatient stays from 2010 to 2019, including fluctuations in the number and types of claims, the adoption of utilization review and independent medical review programs, and a reduction in the number of spinal fusions.

The latest study also highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on workers’ comp inpatient care, including a 20% decline in surgical admissions and a 10% decline in non-surgical admissions, a surge in hospitalizations for diseases and disorders of the respiratory system, and a growing percentage of hospital stays for septicemia and sepsis, which are linked to severe COVID infections and which increased from 3.3% to 5.2% of the workers’ comp hospitalizations last year.

CWCI has published its study in a Research Update report, “California Workers’ Comp Inpatient Hospitalization Trends, 2010-2020,” which Institute members and subscribers can access in the Research section of the group’s website and others can purchase for $14 from CWCI’s online store.


Topics California Workers' Compensation COVID-19

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