New York State Medical Treatment Guidelines for Evaluation and Management in workers compensation patients

The guidelines presented by the New York State Workers Compensation Board provide fundamental principles for evaluating and managing various conditions. These directives are crafted to assist healthcare professionals in identifying appropriate assessment and treatment strategies within the context of comprehensive care.

Healthcare professionals with expertise in evaluating and managing different conditions can rely on the guidance outlined by the Workers Compensation Board to make well-informed decisions about the most suitable approaches for their patients.

It is important to stress that these guidelines are not intended to replace clinical judgment or professional expertise. The ultimate evaluation and management decisions should involve collaboration between the healthcare provider and the patient.

Screening and Monitoring

PHQ-9 Utilization:

  • Although there are various tools available, the PHQ-9 stands out as an acceptable and culturally validated tool for screening, measuring, and monitoring severe depression.
  • The PHQ-9 can also assess suicide risk in patients with DDD and indicate the need for immediate mental health intervention, especially focusing on the last item regarding suicidal thoughts.


Clinical Monitoring:

  • Clinical monitoring should encompass assessing symptomatology, medication and psychotherapy adherence, emergence of adverse effects, symptom breakthrough, suicidality, psychosocial stress, and completion of the PHQ-9.
  • The PHQ-9 serves to monitor clinical depression progression, allowing discussions with patients about symptom improvement.
  • While positive results from screening and psychometric tests may suggest a diagnosis, the final diagnosis should be made after a thorough analysis of all available data, including a comprehensive history or clinical interview.


Treatment Overview

General Approach:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or pharmacotherapy with antidepressants typically serves as first-line treatment for acute uncomplicated DDD.
  • Addressing the underlying cause of DDD is crucial for cases associated with other medical conditions, substances, or medications.
  • Combined CBT and antidepressant treatment may be warranted in certain scenarios, such as treatment resistance or severe cases.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

  • CBT is a recognized nonpharmacological treatment for major depressive disorder, demonstrating efficacy comparable to antidepressant pharmacotherapy for mild to moderate depressive episodes.
  • Combining CBT with pharmacotherapy can enhance treatment outcomes, especially for severe or treatment-resistant depressive disorders.
  • Despite its efficacy, limited availability and access to trained therapists pose significant barriers to CBT’s widespread use.



  • Prescribers should be mindful of potential drug interactions and adverse effects, particularly when considering multiple medications with sedating, habit-forming, or addictive properties.
  • For stable patients on long-term pharmacotherapy, prescribing with multiple refills can ensure uninterrupted dosing between follow-up appointments.
  • Antidepressants, including SSRIs, SNRIs, TCAs, atypical antidepressants, and MAOIs, offer treatment options, with SSRIs and SNRIs typically preferred due to better tolerability and safety profiles.
  • The choice of antidepressant should consider safety, prior response, family history, concurrent medical conditions, and other medications prescribed.
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