Return to Work Considerations
A primary purpose of Worker's Compensation is returning the injured or ill worker to productive employment, and the doctor's evaluation plays a major role in this goal.
Performing restricted work, with limits on how may pounds can be lifted or how often bending can occur, for example, facilitates return to work at the end of a healing period. When the doctor specifies the patient's capacities and abilities, as well as restrictions (either temporary or permanent) it benefits the injured worker, the employer and the insurer.
Capacities and restrictions need to be defined in terms of time periods (i.e., two hours per day for one week followed by . . . etc.). Patients need to know how such recommendations affect their activities while away from the workplace, as well.
If it is the doctor's opinion that a patient will not be able to permanently perform the former job, this recommendation should also be explained and reported. Then the vocational rehabilitation process can be initiated. This recommendation should be reflected in the percentage of permanent disability assigned to the case.
However, if a recommendation for a permanent job change is recognized before the amount of permanent disability is assigned, the recommendation should be made immediately, before the end of the healing period, as well as when assigning permanent disability.