The NY workers compensation board has in existence four new sets of treatment guidelines for the back, neck, knee and shoulder. These sites account for the majority of all serious claims. The guidelines can be seen on the Board website.
All four sets contain an identical section A.19 which provides that a treating physician may request a chance to inspect the work site “to obtain information regarding the demands of the patient’s pre-injury job”. The physician can then estimate a level of disability based on actual job duties rather than the old, universal “mild, moderate or marked” disability. (WCxKit)
The guidelines recognize that few doctors will trouble to actually view the worksite, even though that provides the most accurate information.
The employer, whenever there is a serious injury, should immediately send the treating doctor a letter asking if the doctor will be requesting an “on-site inspection”. Copies should be sent to the Board and carrier. In nearly every case, no inspection will be requested.
However, if there will be medical testimony taken, the carrier/employers examining doctor should make a brief visit to the work site prior to testimony. The doctor will then be in a position to answer what the doctor saw in the workplace that supports the report’s conclusion.
Such testimony will be far more powerful that merely assuming (or guessing) or taking the word of the worker as to what the activities are, even though such speculation has been the rule for decades.
If a treating physician should make a rare appearance they should be welcomed. Treating physicians are seldom accorded such treatment and are more likely to be sympathetic to the employer’s point of view when they receive it. (WCxKit)
An end to the practice of having experts testify “in a fog or a vacuum” will be beneficial to both the employer and the employee.
Author Attorney Theodore Ronca is a practicing lawyer from Aquebogue, New York. He is a frequent writer and speaker and has represented employers in the areas of workers compensation, Social Security disability, employee disability plans, and subrogation for over 30 years. Mr. Ronca has 21 years experience in searching and retrieving medical records and many other types of documents for defense of workers compensation claims. Contact Attorney Ronca at 631-722-2100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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