Consequent to the ongoing SARS CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic , persistent symptoms have been reported in infected patients whose acute symptoms have resolved. These symptoms may include but are not limited to fever, cough , myalgia , dyspnea, fatigue, loss of smell, and pain.
These ongoing symptoms in post COVID patient has been described as “Long COVID” and the patients have been categorized as “Long Haulers”.
From a workers compensation viewpoint , accurate diagnosis and subsequent treatment of post- acute COVID patients with workplace exposure may place an economic obligation on the insurer. From the workers viewpoint, they may face a psychosocial burden attempting to prove the accuracy of their exposure and “Long COVID” diagnosis .
Recognizing the challenges of accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment for these patients, regardless of whether their exposure may have occurred at the workplace, the National Institute of Health launched the RECOVER (Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery) Initiative to learn why some people have prolonged symptoms (referred to as long COVID) or develop new or returning symptoms after the acute phase of infection from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Additionally, researchers1 have offered diagnostic criteria for “Long COVID” but none have been universally accepted . According to Fortune Magazine2 as of August 2021 about 16 states have introduced passed legislation that would allow employees who suffer from a communicable disease like COVID-19 to file workers’ compensation claims presuming they contracted their illness at work. The National Council on Compensation Insurance publishes 2021 STATE ACTIVITY:COVID-19 COMPENSABILITY PRESUMPTIONS3
In the absence of such legislation, we will need to rely on the accepted techniques as outlines in the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Disease and Injury Causation as well as any administratively accepted employee classifications that may be forthcoming.
1 Raveendran AV. Long COVID-19: Challenges in the diagnosis and proposed diagnostic criteria. Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2021;15(1):145-146. doi:10.1016/j.dsx.2020.12.025