So,  here is my question to those of you out there who read this blog.

What incentives could be created which would result in more workers returning to work after they are injured on the job?

I ask because I spent a number of hours this last Fall in meetings with Business and Labor representatives, and representatives from the Department of Labor & Industries and the Governor’s office. We were tasked with exploring ways to reduce long term disability in the workers compensation system. By the way, a nearly impossible task given the short time frame to work before the start of the Legislative session. But, we did have some interesting and productive conversations about what contributes to long-term disability. As you might imagine, the factors vary from claim to claim, and there is not one single contributing factor which we could eliminate, thereby reducing overall long term disability.

We did just start to explore the idea of incentives to improve return to work. We didn’t get anywhere. The Legislative session was looming; the room was getting tense; and battle lines were being drawn. But, we were close to the beginnings of a conversation about ideas. I know, that sounds three steps removed from anything productive. However, there were thoughtful people in the room. Without the pressures of a cantankerous legislative session breathing down everyone’s neck, I think we could actually have those productive discussions. I hope we do, time will tell, I suppose.

In the meantime, I’m interested in anything you might have to say on the subject.  Any thoughts??

2 thoughts on “

  1. Your question on how to return an injured worker to the workplace reducing long term disability got to me. In my situation I was fired without true cause just after reporting my injury. I’ve since then have had two surgeries on my dominent shoulder. Labor and industries will not allow me to finish treatment plan of physical therapy which was truly helping. They also refuse an MRI after my surgeon pulled my shoulder out of socket. They decided to do a capacity and IME instead allowing me to finish my treatment as outlined by my attending physician, physical therapist and surgeon. For the last 7 months my physicians have been trying to get me back into physical therapy, in this time I have been sitting idle as L and I are deciding what to do with no thought to my condition. Within this time I could’ve been better and perhaps already have returned to the workfield. They plan on finding me employable without allowing me to finish my treatment plan. If Labor and Industries wants people off quicker, they should follow the attending physicians orders as the injured worker does. They should allow the injured worker to finish treatment. I am not one of those who want to sit on my tush and collect what little money L&I has to offer, I have worked all of my life, sometimes three jobs at once, this is the first time I’ve been injured and I hate it to say the least. I’d rather be better so I can go back to work as I lost nearly $2000.00 monthly by being injured. Sum it up, tell Labor and Industries to allow an injured worker to finish out their treatment plan!

    • Your situation sounds frustrating, to say the least. Often times we really have to push to get appropriate treatment authorized. It does take a supportive medical provider who is willing to explain why the requested treatment is reasonable and necessary, and take the time to document the measurable progress made to date. Unfortunately, if it comes to litigation it can become an expensive road. The cost of litigation has to be weighed against the out of pocket cost in obtaining the treatment. The worker remains responsible for these litigation costs even if it is ultimately determined that the requested treatment is reasonable and necessary and should be provided. You were at one of those push points or places of conflict where I generally suggest talking to an attorney. While the decision may be that litigation is too costly, at least you will understand the choices and will be the one making the decisions.

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