Characteristics of work-related fatal and hospitalized injuries not captured in workers’ compensation data

Koehoorn M, Tamburic L, Xu F, Alamgir AH, Demers PA, McLeod CB. Characteristics of work-related fatal and hospitalized injuries not captured in workers’ compensation data.  Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2015;72(6):413-20.

OBJECTIVES: (1) To identify work-related fatal and non-fatal hospitalised injuries using multiple data sources, (2) to compare case-ascertainment from external data sources with accepted workers’ compensation claims and (3) to investigate the characteristics of work-related fatal and hospitalised injuries not captured by workers’ compensation.

METHODS: Work-related fatal injuries were ascertained from vital statistics, coroners and hospital discharge databases using payment and diagnosis codes and injury and work descriptions; and work-related (non-fatal) injuries were ascertained from the hospital discharge database using admission, diagnosis and payment codes. Injuries for British Columbia residents aged 15–64 years from 1991 to 2009 ascertained from the above external data sources were compared to accepted workers’ compensation claims using per cent captured, validity analyses and logistic regression.

RESULTS: The majority of work-related fatal injuries identified in the coroners data (83%) and the majority of work-related hospitalised injuries (95%) were captured as an accepted workers’ compensation claim. A work-related coroner report was a positive predictor (88%), and the responsibility of payment field in the hospital discharge record a sensitive indicator (94%), for a workers’ compensation claim. Injuries not captured by workers’ compensation were associated with female gender, type of work (natural resources and other unspecified work) and injury diagnosis (eg, airway-related, dislocations and undetermined/unknown injury).

CONCLUSIONS: Some work-related injuries captured by external data sources were not found in workers’ compensation data in British Columbia. This may be the result of capturing injuries or workers that are ineligible for workers’ compensation, or the result of injuries that go unreported to the compensation system. Hospital discharge records and coroner reports may provide opportunities to identify workers (or family members) with an unreported work-related injury and to provide them with information for submitting a workers’ compensation claim.