Work Related Injuries
In the United States in 2007, 5,488 workers died from industrial injuries, and 49,000 died from work-related injuries. NIOSH estimates that 4 million workers in the U.S. in 2007 suffered from non-fatal work related injuries or illnesses.
The most usual body parts involved are the spine, hands, the head, lungs, eyes, skeleton, and skin. According to data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 15 workers die from traumatic injuries each day in the United States, and an additional 200 workers are hospitalized.
Physiatrists play a key role in treating industrial injuries. We are specifically trained in areas of industrial medicine and acute musculoskeletal rehabilitation. We review important factors in determining whether an injury is work-related, particularly in the presence of preexisting, underlying conditions. We address the roles of functional capacity examinations and work-hardening programs in facilitating successful return to work. Interactions are outlined between work return and nonwork activities of daily living, as well as financial and psychologic barriers that may impede work return. Legal issues regarding independent medical examinations and depositions are reviewed. Guidance is offered for identifying those relatively few injured workers who may require referral for surgical or other consultations.
An Impairment Rating is a numerical value, expressed as a percentage, which describes the extent of a patient’s objective impairment. This number is obtained through a review of clinical information and an interview with the patient. The calculation of the rating occurs through the use of accepted impairment guides and criteria. Primarily the industrial/motor vehicle insurance carrier, an attorney, or the treating physician requests impairment ratings.
Independent Medical Studies
An Independent Medical Evaluation (IME) is an evaluation which may address the patient’s progress, diagnosis, treatment, causation, prognosis or care provided by a different treating physician. A medical review of prior treatment is conducted through examination of medical records and radiographs and a thorough examination of the patient. An IME may be described as a specialized second opinion and often includes recommendations for future treatment. Specific questions asked by the referral source are answered and the patient’s future limitations are discussed. An insurance company or attorney most often requests and IME.