The treating physician can be the “gatekeeper” to return to work. An important part of transitional work programs is getting the injured employees’ treating physicians to agree to their patients’ participation.
First Obtain Agreement from Physician Not to Prescribe “No Work”
The first step is to obtain an agreement from the treating physician not to prescribe “no work” for the employee without first discussing the matter with the employer. An injured employee may be able to function in a transitional work capacity much sooner if the employer is an active participant in the decision making process.
Ensure Medical Advisors Remain in Regular Contact
Secondly, employers should ensure their medical advisors or physician consultants remain in regular contact with all treating physicians. The company doctor should receive periodic reports on the patient’s progress, as well as proactively communicate with the treating physician transitional work job descriptions. The treating physician can determine if the patient is able to perform the tasks listed in the description, as well as whether the employee can work in any capacity.
Employers Need to Take More Control
Transitional work programs are common at employer work sites. However, the simple existence of a transitional duty program does not mean it’s operating with maximum effectiveness or efficiency.
Employers who take a more active role in coordinating the activities of the injured employee and the treating physician will generate the expectation that the employee will return to work in some capacity within a specified period of time. This will result in shorter and less costly workers’ compensation claims costs.
Author Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is the founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center, which offers the Certified Master of Workers’ Compensation national designation.
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