What is occupational orthopedics?
Occupational orthopedics involves the diagnosis, treatment and management of work-related musculoskeletal injuries. The successful treatment of work-related injuries involves the recognition that there are physical, work environment and socioeconomic issues that must be considered when treating patients hurt on the job.
Many of our patients come to our practice as a result of work-related injuries. We put a strong emphasis on providing the best orthopedic care to those with such injuries as promptly as possible.
The occupational orthopedics focus of our practice provides benefits to our patients, their employers, the insurance carriers and case managers.
The benefits of our occupational orthopedics focus of our practice include:
- Our focus on patient care and recovery is our prime concern.
- Prompt evaluation and treatment of work-related injuries by a board certified orthopedic surgeon.Those requiring immediate care can often be seen the same day.
- Orthopedic care focusing on the patient’s full recovery and return to regular work as soon as possible.
- Patients unable to return to regular duty often return to modified work as early as their injuries will permit.
- Our workers’ compensation case manager contacts patients, employers and carriers to make certain that all of the key figures, crucial to a patient’s rapid recovery, are kept up to date on their progress.
- Our occupational orthopedic team also includes a designated workers’ compensation case manager, physician assistant and physical therapy team.
- Work capacity forms are completed after each patient visit. One copy is provided to the patient and one is faxed to the employer and carrier on the day of the visit.
- Office notes are usually available within 24 to 48 hours of the patient’s visit.
Patient frequently asked questions
If my employer does not have a light duty program, how can you send me back to work?
The treating orthopedic surgeon often cannot keep patients who are unable to perform their regular job out of work completely if they a not completely disabled. We are required to indicate your physical limitations due to the injury. If this means that you cannot do your regular job, many employers will provide light duty positions until you are fully recovered. Employers that do not have established light duty programs, may design one for the injured employee.
If there is no light duty available, and the employer cannot set up a temporary light duty position for you, then the employer will put you out of work.
In other words, your orthopedic surgeon cannot put you out of work completely just because you employer does not have a light duty program.
What do I do if my employer or supervisor asks me to do work that is not listed on the work capacity form?
If the employer is asking an injured employee to perform work tasks that is more than is listed on the work capacity form, it is a result of a miscommunication or misunderstanding. If this happens, call our office and speak with Lynn, our workers’ compensation nurse case manager, and she will help you resolve the problem by speaking with the doctor, insurance carrier, and even the employer if necessary.
Was I really supposed to go back to work today?
In many instances, you may be released to work with restrictions the same day as your office visit. It is up to you to read and understand the work capacity form that you are given and comply with the directions or discuss them with your doctor.
Can I start work next week since that is the start of the work schedule?
Unfortunately, your orthopedic surgeon cannot put you back to work next week without a good clinical reason. If you are ready to return to work on light duty or regular duty, you will be expected to go back the next work day.
Can I get a note that excuses me from work for last week?
The only way to get a note that excuses you from work is to be seen by the doctor or call our office and speak to our workers’ compensation case manager to explain why you cannot go to work. We do not excuse patients from work for days that preceded their office visit or if they did not contact our office on the day in question.
In other words, you cannot expect to get the doctor to excuse you from work if you did not notify our case manager or the doctor even if your absence really was due to your injury.
When will I start getting paid?
We recognize that being injured can be a financial hardship for patients, but we do not control the compensation checks for injured workers. This is up to your workers’ compensation insurance adjustor.
Can my employer really send me out to look for a job if they have no light duty?
Yes. The workers compensation system may require that injured employees search for a job that accommodates their light duty restrictions. This is up to your employer and/or insurance carrier, not the doctor.
What do I do if my employer continuously asks me to do work that the work capacity form states I should avoid?
We cannot control what happens at the workplace. Our hope is that your employer will see the benefit of cooperating with the work restrictions we have indicated. If this does not happen, you should contact your insurance adjuster or our office. We can try to help in these circumstances, but our influence in your workplace is very limited.
Can my employer really say that my injury is not work-related?
No. The workers’ compensation insurance carrier will investigate your claim and make the final determination as to whether your claim is work-related. Our office records may be used in that process, so it is important that you are complete and honest when you give us the history of your injury.
If there are questions regarding the connection between work and your injury, your insurance carrier has the right to get a second opinion.
> Employer and insurance carrier frequently asked questions
If the work capacity form says, “No work with one arm”, does that mean the employee can work with the other arm?
Yes. The work capacity form is intended to give the patient and employer an idea what kind of activity is permitted so that the injured patient can remain active and productive, while avoiding further injury.
It is in the best interest of the injured employee and the employer if everyone abides by the work restrictions. Making injured employees perform work that results in further injuries, prolongs their recovery and potentially increases their eventual impairment.
If the work capacity form indicates “Light duty for 2 weeks, then regular duty,” does that include weekends or does that mean 14 work days?
The “2 weeks” includes weekends and means 14 days from the date specified on the work capacity form.
How do I file a claim?
Every employer is required by law to have Workers’ Compensation insurance. If you have an injured employee, contact your insurance carrier and they will guide you through the process.