April 27, 2007

Christine Baker

CHSWC approves report and recommendations on the
Spinal Surgery Second-Opinion process

OAKLAND -- The California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation (CHSWC) has approved the release of the Report and Recommendations on the Spinal Surgery Second-Opinion Process for distribution and feedback. Labor Code 4062 provides a procedure for a second opinion if the employer objects to the physician's recommendation for spinal surgery in the workers' compensation system or if the employee requests the second-opinion process if the employer's utilization review does not approve the recommended surgery. An uncodified provision of Senate Bill (SB) 228 requires that CHSWC conduct a study on the spinal surgery second-opinion process (SSSOP) and issue a report concerning the findings of the study and recommendations for further legislation.

CHSWC contracted with the University of California (UC) Berkeley for an evaluation of the SSSOP. Subsequently, CHSWC added a survey component with injured workers to the study. This report updates the August 5, 2005 SSSOP interim report, incorporates the results of the survey, and proposes recommendations for legislative changes that are meant to clarify the interaction with utilization review (UR), limit unnecessary employer requests for SSSOP assignment, and highlight the role of SSSOP for resolving workers' disputes of UR rejections of surgery.

CHSWC, created by the workers' compensation reform legislation of 1993, is charged with overseeing the health and safety and workers' compensation systems in California and recommending administrative or legislative modifications to improve their operation. CHSWC was established to conduct a continuing examination of the workers' compensation system and of the state's activities to prevent industrial injuries and occupational diseases and to examine those programs in other states.

Information about CHSWC and the Report and Recommendations on the Spinal Surgery Second-Opinion Process can be found at CHSWC's home page at Information may also be obtained by writing to CHSWC at 1515 Clay Street, Suite 901, Oakland, California, 94612, by calling (510) 622-3959, by faxing a request to (510) 622-3265, or by email at