When You're On Workers' Comp, Make Sure Your Doctor Knows What You Have to do on Your Job

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After a work injury, telling your doctor the kind of work you do is critical. 

We all know doctors - even very good ones - have less and less time to spend with patients.  Like it or not, that's just the nature of the medical system these days.

After getting hurt at work, when you are getting medical treatment for your work injury, it's important to tell your doctor about the physical nature of your job.  You see, doctors don't have any idea what a steamfitter really does, or a chef, or a security guard, an elevator mechanic, a plumber, a grocery store manager, or a delivery driver.

Truth is, a lot of people don't know all of the things you have to do at your job every day.

So assume (and you'l be right) that the doctor doesn't know all the physical aspects of your specific job - how much you have to lift and carry, how often, how often you unload heavy materials, how much your tools and equipment weigh, how much of your work is overhead, etc. 

Why is it important to tell your doctor about the physical aspects of your specific job?

As you recuperate from your injuries, whether it's a back injury, torn rotator cuff in your shoulder, torn meniscus in your knee - all but very serious injuries will probably (hopefully) have your injury getting better and healing.  So at first, the doctor may restrict you from doing any work while your condition is healing (or if you just had surgery for example).

But as your condition improves, the doctor will often set our restrictions or limitations on your activities - no lifting over 10 pounds, no overhead work, no climbing ladders - that kind of thing.

Sometimes the doctor will say you can work because he doesn't understand the physical nature of your job.  Here's an example:

A chef tears a rotator cuff at work and has surgery.  He can't lift over 10 pounds.  His doctor (who goes to a lot of fancy restaurants) has never seen an entree that weighs over 10 pounds, plus the waiters carry the food out anyway.  So he says his patient can go back to being a chef.

But the chef of this small restaurant actually has to unload daily deliveries of food, drinks, ingredients and supplies in boxes that weigh 50 pounds, stack them on shelves in the restaurant, move marble tables to set up for different events, lift and carry large pots of boiling water, food, etc.  

You get the picture.  It's not just making one meal.  It's a fast paced, production.  Inside a commercial kitchen is a lot different than most of us imagine.

So tell your doctor exactly what you do for a living - it will help him tailor your restrictions and hopefully your recovery.  

You don't want your doctor to release you to a job you can't do because he is misinformed.  Your workers comp bendefits will stop and it will be tough to get them started again. 

Frank R. Kearney, Attorney-at-Law
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Experienced DC Workers' Comp, Long Term Disability & Accident Lawyer
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