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Moore: Involving the Physician in Return-to-Work Risk Management

  • National

A huge risk return-to-work risk management failure begins when the physician evaluates the injured employee for a light- or full-duty release.  

James Moore

James Moore

One of my Six Keys to Cutting Workers' Comp Costs involves RTW risk management. 

When reviewing workers’ compensation files, we see so many times that the treating physician does not know the exact duties of the injured employee’s job.  

How can a physician make an exacting return to work? Often, a physician will just write up a generic return-to-work statement. The more information the doctor is given, the more exact the RTW abilities or restrictions.  

Building a job bank — whether on video or paper or a combination of both — is the best RTW risk management technique. Over the years, we have assisted employers in building video or paper job banks. 

 A large number of employers have job descriptions for hiring employees. Converting the job descriptions to job duties makes the job bank task much easier. 

Paying for a physical therapist or occupational therapist to evaluate the job bank looks great if the job duties ever end up in workers’ compensation court. The trouble and expense is repaid by cutting down the RTW costs.  

A lower-cost RTW risk management option centers on having a rehabilitation nurse assist with building and updating the job bank. Many rehabilitation companies provide that service. Knowing which service to use is key to cutting claims costs. 

Overall, rehabilitation nurses remain one of the best risk management techniques for workers' comp. Some carriers and third-party administrators have cut back on using this great risk management technique. That choice shows up on the increased claim-cost list a few months after cutting back on rehab nurses. 

Some physicians have visited larger employers to see what jobs employees do. I am not sure if physicians will do that now. 

The physical maximum weight, repetitiveness and other job factors need to be forwarded to the treating physician immediately — before the first visit. 

Helping the physician usually assists the adjuster reduce your workers' comp costs.    Always make sure to forward a copy of your job bank to your adjuster on the claim.  

The adjuster and physician knowing the injured employee's job duties from day one results in a lower reserve on your file. Lower reserves, in turn, cuts comp costs. 

Today is the best day to start building your job bank for great RTW risk management. 

This blog post is provided by James Moore, AIC, MBA, ChFC, ARM, and is republished with permission from J&L Risk Management Consultants. Visit the full website at www.cutcompcosts.com.

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