Workers who develop occupational skin disease are often eligible for workers' compensation benefits; however, there is little known about the decision-making process for adjudicating claims submitted for work-related skin problems.
The objective of this pilot study was to test a file abstraction instrument and determine the nature of information that was available for decision-making.
Files submitted to the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in 1995 for dermatitis were identified. The last 51 files were abstracted to collect information concerning demographics, physicians seen, information available in the claim file for decision making, as well as type of claim and outcome of the claim.
Approximately 70% of the claims were "no-lost-time" and one-third of total claims were accepted for compensation. Although there was reasonable information related to the clinical status, most claims had no information that related to workplace issues such as exposures or association with work. Claims that were for lost time or were accepted had more information available.
The pilot study has demonstrated that there is a lack of information related to workplace issues that would be important in decision-making. The study will be extended to examine the entire year's claims in order to develop a strategy to enhance the understanding of the WSIB and providers regarding the information necessary for decision-making and to determine methods to facilitate its collection.