Frequently Asked Questions

My employer practically accused me of being a malingerer because I'm not back on the job. I have carpal tunnel syndrome that was deemed "work-related" by my doctor. I've been sent for all kinds of tests while waiting to have surgery. If it were up to me, I would have had the surgery and be back to work by now. How do I respond to this?

It may be best to just do what you can to follow your doctor's advice and return to work as soon as you are released to do so. Trying to educate employers who are already convinced that employees out on Workers' Compensation are taking advantage of the system can be a difficult task. There is some evidence that Workers' Compensation patients are treated differently than patients on standard health insurance. The differences may be the result of government and legal requirements. Patients like yourself are ready to have surgery but surgeons know they must document everything more carefully with more tests. Sometimes letters of justification must be written by the surgeon. Or a letter of approval from the employer's risk management firm may be necessary. In some cases, a second opinion is required by the Workers' Compensation board. All of this adds to the time between diagnosis and treatment and can make it look like the patient is the problem when in fact, the system is the culprit.

Charles S. Day, MD, MBA, et al. Effects of Workers' Compensation on the Diagnosis and Surgical Treatment of Patients with Hand and Wrist Disorders. In The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. October 2010. Vol. 92. No. 13. Pp. 2294-2299.

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