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Hospitalization rates in California decreased in 2021



Workers’ compensation hospitalizations in California fell 5.7% in 2021, continuing a trend in which hospitalizations declined at a faster rate than hospitalizations under private medical coverage, according to a new study by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute.

The CWCI study, titled Trends in the Utilization of Inpatient Care in California Workers’ Compensation, measured inpatient services under different coverage systems and looked at more than 35.3 million hospital stays between 2012 and 2021.

The 2021 numbers brought the total decline over the past 10 years to 48.1%, more than triple the decade-long decline of 15% for privately covered hospitalizations, according to the study.

Overall, worker inpatient admissions represented just 0.5% of all inpatient stays in California during the 1

0-year study period and 0.3% in 2021.

The study compared the volume and types of inpatient care covered by Workers’ Compensation, Medicare, Medi-Cal, and private coverage.

Researchers at CWCI attributed the drop in hospitalizations to several factors, including fluctuations in the number and types of claims, the adoption of new review programs that require treatment to meet evidence-based medical standards, and a decrease in the number of spinal fusion procedures, which are more common among the injured inpatient population than the general population .

The study determined that while musculoskeletal disorders continue to be one of the leading causes of inpatient stays under workers’ compensation, COVID-19 claims have been determined to make up more of the share recently since such claims were first introduced to the comp system.

Surgical inpatient stays are more common under workers’ comp than in other systems, the study found, with results showing they accounted for more than two-thirds of injured worker stays in 2021.


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