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Doctor has released but work won't accept employee back w/o restrictions North Caroli

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  • Doctor has released but work won't accept employee back w/o restrictions North Caroli

    My husband just went to what he hope is his last dr. appt. He was injured on May 2 and had to have his should operated on in April. He's been doing physical therapy 3x a week since about a month after the surgery. He took a three hour test to assess his improvement and the doctor released him on medium duty only. When my husband went to work to inform them, they told him they could not accept him as long as he still had restrictions. Now what do we do? Does WC still pay him? My husband has been itching to get back to work (He drives a tractor trailer truck).

  • #2
    Has he reached MMI (maximum medical improvement)? If no, then he would still be eligible for TTD until he does reach MMI. Once he is at MMI, he can either return to work, or file for permanency (also called Permanent Partial Disability). If he is not going to be able to return to truck driving, then he should start looking for work that is appropriate for his restrictions. If he is having difficulty doing this or needs retraining, he can inquire about vocational rehabilitation. While on voc rehab, he would get paid the TTD rate. Typically for non-catastrophic injuries, the carrier wants to see that he has at least attempted to find suitable employment on his own first, which is why I suggest starting that search now.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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    • #3
      No, he's not been released at 100% yet. He has to go back in a month to see the doctor again. He called the nurse/case manager and was reassured his benefits would still continue UNTIL he returned back to work. His job told him he's not allowed to come back until he has no restrictions at all. They're the hold up, not the doctor (for once). Tue doctor my be reluctant to release so early completely because they had a guy in PT w/ my husband that got pushed too far doing his physical therapy and got reinjured.

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      • #4
        They do not have to take him back while he is still healing though it is in their best interest to do so. If he had surgery in April, it is very strange that he is not at MMI yet, especially if this was an arthorscopic procedure, which most are these days. Typically it takes about 8 weeks to reach MMI after a shoulder surgery, though for some reason WC injuries seem to take an unnaturally long time to heal. 5 months later, he should be back to "normal". It does him no good to drag out the process so I'd be asking the doctor for an explanantion on why he is still not at MMI. Is he doing anything during this month until he sees the doctor again? Sitting around doing nothing waiting to "heal" at this point isn't going to help him.
        I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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        • #5
          My husband isn't the one dragging it out, the doctor is. The first time he saw my husband he told him he'd be out for at LEAST six months. We don't know why the doctor is leery about just sending him back fully but work is afraid to take him back with restrictions b/c he'd be a liability if he got hurt again. Physical Therapy had released him two weeks before and said THEY didn't know why he wouldn't be allowed to go back now. Now the doctor just wants him to "rest up". I guess he'd rather cover his *** instead of just sending my husband back to work. (He is NOT the just "lay around" kinda guy! lol)
          Last edited by littlecc; 09-07-2007, 05:20 AM.

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          • #6
            Which is why he needs to discuss with the doctor what is going on. There must be some more to the story than a typical shoulder injury for it to take 6 months. If he was told to expect to be out for 6 months based on whatever medical evidence there was at the time and it has only been 5, then I'm not sure what the question is. He still has another month before the doctor expects he can return. Bringing him back before the doctor releases him to do the work he used to do is a very very bad idea. While they can offer light duty if they choose, they aren't obligated to do so.
            I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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            • #7
              So, it's not unusual for an employer to refuse an employee coming back? He hasn't received his check for last week yet and we were getting concerned that because the doctor has released him (to a point) and work refused to let him come back yet that WC was trying to get out of sending his weekly check. (This isn't the first time they've been late with the checks.)

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              • #8
                More liekly is that the doctor hasn't sent the records over to the carrier. Or they haven't heard that light duty isn't available.

                No, it is not unusual for employers not to offer light duty, though I think it is short sighted of them.
                I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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                • #9
                  Are they still obligated to pay him until the doctor has fully released him for full duty?

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                  • #10
                    If light duty isn't available then yes.
                    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for all of your help, Ellen. They called this morning wanting my husband to come back and do another three hour evaluation to see if he can lift 100 pounds to their satisfaction. Then, I guess a week later they'll send the report to the doctor and he'll (hopefully) release my husband to return back to work when he goes to see him October 4th.

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                      • #12
                        I just couldn't resist chiming in here. This question is for ElleMD. Have you ever had shoulder surgery arthroscopic or otherwise? I have had both and I can assure you 8 weeks is NO where near enough time to heal from this type of surgery. With the exception of maybe only removing a bone spur which is highly unusual to be done if not in relation to a rotator cuff tear or some other damage being repaired.

                        I have had a number of surgery's in the past 30 years and I can tell you without a doubt that the shoulder surgery was the hardest to heal up from. And NO it was NOT a WC covered injury. I was the better part of 8 months getting anywhere near 60% use of my arm/shoulder after the first surgery. I am scheduled for the other shoulder to be surgically repaired in the very near future. My orthopedic surgeon, who happens to be one of the best in the state and for that matter is hailed out of state for his expertise, has advised me to expect no less than 4 months recovery time IF he is able to make the repairs by scope and up wards of 8-10 months if this is also an open surgery.

                        I am curious but where did you get the information you posted that 8 weeks is sufficient time for recovery from a shoulder surgery? Someone is giving you some very poor information, from experience I can assure you of that.
                        Information posted by me is my "OPINION". I do NOT give legal advice to anyone as like most here I am NOT an attorney.

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                        • #13
                          My info is based on the 4th edition of the AMA Guide, a presentation I attended by one of the leading orthopedic surgeons in the area on the subject and experience with employees who have had both WC and non-WC shoulder arthroscopies. It is very rare that I have anyone out longer than 3 months for a shoulder surgery and I've probably had 4-5 this year alone (not all WC). I'm not saying they are good as new at 2-3 months or don't have any residual effects but they are well enough to come back to work with maybe a few minor restrictions.

                          Everyone heals differently and there are undoubtedly factors which for any one person can greatly impact their healing time. My suggestion was simply that it isn't standard to be out 6 months for this and the employee in question should discuss with their doctor why that was the projected time indicated.
                          I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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                          • #14
                            In NC, an injured worker can continue to draw TTD checks until he returns to suitable employment. Reaching MMI is irrelevant to TTD.

                            However, under the improperly decided Collins v. Speedway case, the insurance carrier may be entitled to a credit for the TTD they paid post-MMI if your husband chooses to take his rating money for PPD after he returns to work.

                            Keeping a truck driver out longer than 6 weeks after shoulder surgery is pretty common in NC, which has more truckers than just about any other state in the union. I have represented truck drivers who went back to work at 6 to 8 weeks following shoulder surgery, full duty, and every one of them was reinjured within 30 days or so. It is hard, very physical work, and it is hard on the shoulders, and they get hurt again quickly. So the surgeons who treat them have learned to keep them out a while longer to minimize the risk of reinjury.

                            Bob Bollinger, Board Certified Specialist in NC Workers Compensation Law, Charlotte NC
                            Bob Bollinger, Attorney
                            Board Certified Specialist in NC Workers' Compensation Law
                            Charlotte, NC

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                            • #15
                              http://www.swartzcampbell.com/detail...tions.php?ID=7
                              Information posted by me is my "OPINION". I do NOT give legal advice to anyone as like most here I am NOT an attorney.

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