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Costs spiral out of control
True Story: Patient dictates lost time during ER visit

A Certified WorkComp Advisor (CWCA) recently visited a local emergency room following a household accident. There he witnessed first hand how the costs for an injury claim can quickly spiral out of control.

While the Advisor was repairing a shower in his home, a carelessly placed crowbar fell on his head from an open ceiling. A neighbor took him to the emergency room where he needed four stitches to close the gash. As the nurse practitioner in the emergency room put in the stitches, she made a visual assessment of the Advisor, who – clad in jeans, a tee shirt and work boots at the time – happened to look the part of a construction worker.

When she was done with the stitches, she told him he was free to go and that he had “the whole day ahead of him.” To this, the CWCA replied, “My work day was kinda messed up by this hospital visit.” The nurse practitioner then concluded that this had been a work-related accident and asked the CWCA how much time off from work he felt he would need.

In an effort to test the waters, the Advisor did not correct the nurse practitioner and instead, asked, “How much can I have?”

“Well, the stitches will be in 10 to 14 days,” said the nurse practitioner.

“Can I have 14 days then?” asked the CWCA. And with that, she scribbled a note on hospital stationary that said in bold letters, “NO WORK, 14 DAYS.” This came not five minutes after she had told him he could leave without so much as a prescription for pain medicine.

The fact that the patient in this case could dictate his own treatment underscores the need for an established Return-to-Work plan. Had this been a real workplace injury, a Return-to-Work plan would have resulted in the patient seeing a physician who understood workplace injuries and both the physician and the employee would know that there would be “light duty” work available for the employee.