Research

Workmen’s compensation for occupational hand injuries

J McCaul, D McGuire, I Koller, G Thiart, S Dix-Peek, M Solomons

Abstract


Background. The Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act No. 130 of 1993, as amended in 1997 (COIDA), provides payment to healthcare providers for treatment of occupational injuries in South Africa (SA). Patients and employers are often unaware of procedures for claiming, and patients then carry the burden of costs themselves. Additionally, under-billing results in a loss of income for treating hospitals. Hand injuries are common occupational injuries and form the focus of this study.

Objectives. To investigate whether occupational hand injuries treated at the Martin Singer Hand Unit at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, were accurately captured and allocated correct professional fee coding and billing. Accurate capturing and billing would allow for access to the Compensation Fund and allocation of finances to improve service delivery, as well as avoid unnecessary costs to otherwise uninsured patients.

Methods. All new hand injuries presenting to the hand unit at the hospital in August 2017 were sampled in a retrospective folder review. Injuries on duty (IODs) were identified and analysed further. Coding and billing were compared with independent private quotes.

Results. Sixty new hand injuries presented during the month. Fifteen were IODs, but only 6 were recognised by administration. The other 9 were billed at minimum income rates and 5 of these patients also had operations, which were not billed for. A total of ZAR88 871.99 was under-billed in terms of professional fees only. The 9 incorrectly classified patients had to bear costs themselves at a median of ZAR130.00 each.

Conclusions. There were large discrepancies in billing for occupational hand injuries. This resulted in costs to the patients and loss of income for the facility. Access to the Compensation Fund is vital in financing resources in the overburdened public sector. Suggestions for improvement include accessing COIDA funds in order to improve administration at the unit, so improving identification, coding and billing of occupational hand injuries.

 


Authors' affiliations

J McCaul, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Groote Schuur Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

D McGuire, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Groote Schuur Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

I Koller, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Groote Schuur Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

G Thiart, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Groote Schuur Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

S Dix-Peek, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

M Solomons, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Groote Schuur Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

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Keywords

Workmen's Compensation Act; Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act; Hand injury; Occupational injury; Injury on duty; Finance; Fund; Billing; Hospital administration

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2019;109(7):516-518. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2019.v109i7.13747

Article History

Date submitted: 2019-06-28
Date published: 2019-06-28

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