Musculoskeletal Disorders = Lost Work Days
The Bureau of Labor Statistics in a study of injuries and illnesses in private industry that required the workers to stay away from work, found that musculoskeletal disorders accounted for one third of all lost work day cases. These injuries or disorders include muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage and spine.
Safety in the work place is an enormous problem for employers and physicians alike.
On a personal note taking care of injured workers is the most difficult part of our orthopaedic surgery practice. When a worker is injured at his place of employment, many factors come into play. There are many agendas so to speak. We of course in the office or in the emergency room are dealing initially with the injured worker.
The other players involved in the equation when a worker is injured include the employer and the insurance carrier. Often the insurance carrier will hire a consultant or case manager, who is frequently a registered nurse, to keep track of what is going on with the injured worker. The nurse frequently will accompany the injured person to the office for subsequent follow up visits.
Anyone who has been in medical practice more than one day and has seen at least one worker's compensation patient realizes that this part of the practice is much different than all of the rest of the patients that we see.
When the injured worker involves an attorney to represent his or her interest things become even more complex.
The injured worker says "I am not going back to work until I am 100%". The employer says we want the injured person back to work next week because we don't believe they were that badly injured and they are probably "milking it". The insurance carrier often is out to prove that whatever happened could not be work related and therefore they are withholding payment. When an attorney is involved you get a letter requesting all of the records and a complete report.
Because of these factors many physicians have decided they do not have the time and the patience to work in the worker's compensation area.