Workers Compensation: Orthopedic Care & Treatment
I commonly treat knee and shoulder injuries that occur in the workplace because I do a lot of workers compensation cases. The most common injuries I treat are rotator cuff tears, labral tears above the shoulder, torn ACL, and meniscal tear above the knee.
They’re usually referred, first of all, to us because they’ve had an on-the-job injury. Of course the insurance companies, the adjusters, the employers all want my opinion as to whether it happened on the job or whether the injury is related to the job. So that has several factors: what the history is, what the clinical findings are, whether the history is consistent with the injury that we’re treating. Did they have a pre-existing disease process? Did they have previous surgery there? So it’s multifactorial to say the least. It has taken many years to balance those factors out to understand what really is or was a work related injury.
The great benefit is we have the case managers on-site most of the time, and I know most of them. I’ve been working with them for 20 or 30 years, so they know how I take care of my patients. I believe that’s one reason they bring patients to me – because they know I care about the patient. I take time to listen, and they know that I will direct my care to get the best and quickest outcome – or, if I can’t get an appropriate outcome that it doesn’t stay prolonged. One of the things adjusters and employers dont want to see is someone that’s just left hanging for months at a time going no where. We try to make them better – we do everything we can to maximize our benefit and tailor their limits to where they are. If they can’t get back to work, which occassionally happens, we define their limitations and we give them some permanent restrictions.
Work comp patients are no different from any other patient in my office. I treat them with the same respect, do the same examinations and treat them exactly the same. I want them to know I care about their orthopedic injury, and I care about getting them back. So my orthopedic care of the work comppatient is no different than any other patient I see in my office. I don’t work for an insurance company, and I don’t work for the employer – I work for the patient. They send patients to me because I’ve done this for a long time, and I have good outcomes. The datails of managing workers compensation cases are very complex, and our group has learned to do it very well.