What you need to know about work-related injury:

Education plays a critical role in my practice. In addition to holding myself and my team to the highest standards, I feel it is important to also educate patients regarding their specific cases, treatment plans, and the healthcare system in which they receive their care in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Recently, I have seen an increase in second opinion requests from patients regarding Workers’ Compensation cases. These are hardworking people who have sustained injuries on the job and have sought to utilize their valued Workers’ Compensation benefits in order to get treatment and return to work as quickly and painlessly as possible.  Unfortunately, a substantial number of these patients did not made their way initially to a subspecialist, but instead have been subjected to a lengthy journey through various providers, pursuing inefficient, often unsuccessful treatment plans. Unfortunately, by the time these patients make it to their final destination, they have spent a substantial amount of time and resources with little or no success in healing their injuries and returning to work.

I’ve found that many of these patients did not understand the treatment plans and options available to them when utilizing their Workers’ Compensation benefits.  This has resulted in folks wasting time, missing the opportunity to get the care they need early, and in the least favorable scenarios, worsening their injuries.

One of the most important aspects to a good result in medicine is to establish a solid diagnosis early on in the process. So, what do you do if you get injured on the job?

First, report it right away to your superior and work with the employer to file the appropriate paperwork.  Many times, people don’t know the process that is involved with a work-related injury.  If the problem seems serious or you don’t know what is supposed to happen next, then you need to find answers that make sense.

For instance, if you injured your shoulder then it would make sense to see a shoulder specialist as opposed to a generalist or hand surgeon. Someone who specializes in a certain body part can easily evaluate the situation and help the patient understand the seriousness of the injury without speculation.  Sometimes rehabilitation maybe all that is required.  There are other times when advanced imaging, for instance and MRI, of the body part may be required which can establish the diagnosis early on therefore lead to rapid successful treatment.

Second, understand that once the injury is reported to the employer, you will likely need to see a company physician or be referred to a prearranged company that handles workers compensation injuries right around the time of the injury.  This is a good idea and you should follow through with the evaluation. Your company has your best interest in mind by getting you evaluated early on after the injury.    However, following this initial evaluation, patients may feel vulnerable or intimidated by the situation they are in and often times “do what they are told” for fear of losing their job.  There is a huge misconception that patients are required to see the company physician after the initial evaluation for their definitive care.

Many common questions raised by patients after an injury include the following: “What do I do now?”  Am I really hurt or not? Will I get better on my own?  Should I take time off of work and see if my symptoms improve? “How long should I wait to get better?”  “Is the physician I was referred to for definitive care after the injury the right person to treat my injury?”

My team has a very successful record in treating patients with a wide array of work-related shoulder, elbow, and knee injuries. We are adept in assisting patients in navigating a successful pathway through their healthcare experience along with timely communication with the employer, the insurance carrier, and any possible attorneys and/or nurse case managers that may be involved.  We devise comprehensive care plans designed to return patients to back to work as soon as safely possible and get on with their lives after their injury.

If you have sustained a work-related injury, contact me at 815-381-7332 for an appointment. Our Workman’s Compensation Staff are available from 7:30am to 4:00pm on business days routinely.