A safe and early return to work can benefit injured workers

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 47, No. 4, May 2005, Page 194 WorkSafeBC

Here’s how you can help

Research shows that workers who are injured on the job, particularly those with soft-tissue injuries, recover faster and more successfully when they return to work as soon as safely possible. Helping your patients maintain a bond with their workplace can assist—not interfere with—your efforts to resolve their clinical issues.

The WCB can help. We recently launched a program of early intervention by nurse advisors to help injured workers return safely to the workplace. The program has been operating in Kelowna, Abbotsford, Surrey, and, since last spring, in Victoria—and response has been favorable.

And here’s how we can help

The WCB has approximately 50 nurse advisors around the province—registered nurses with specialized education, training, and experience in incorporating rehabilitation at the worksite as part of an overall injury treatment and rehabilitation plan. They become involved in lost-time injury claims within about 2 weeks of the date of injury, regardless of whether the claim has been adjudicated. Our nurse advisors are not involved in claims entitlement; instead they’re completely focused on collaborating with injured workers, employers, and physicians, along with other health care providers, to develop and implement appropriate return-to-work plans.

A nurse advisor can assist you by:

• Developing a safe, timely return-to-work plan as part of your overall recovery plan for your patient.
• Reviewing your patient’s job demands and work environment.
• Explaining to you the available and appropriate transition work in your patient’s workplace.
• Providing job coaching for injured workers and employers where we have commenced a graduated return-to-work plan and there are difficulties with certain job tasks.
• Providing you with information about the WCB’s rehabilitation programs and other health care benefits.

Billing code for telephone consultations

If a nurse advisor or other WCB representative calls you regarding return-to-work planning for a patient with a workplace injury, use billing code 19930 for the telephone consultations up to 15 minutes long. (Routine inquiries are not covered by this fee code.)

For more information

The WCB’s clinical team, including nurse advisors, medical advisors, and psychology advisors, are available to assist in return-to-work planning for patients who have been injured on the job. To access our clinical team, make your request on Form 8 or Form 11 or call your nearest WCB office, toll free at 1 888 922-6622.

—Don Graham, MD
WCB Chief Medical Officer

One doctor’s experience

Dr James Stopforth of Chilliwack had a patient with lumbar back strain (nonspecific low back pain) who, 2 weeks after her injury, was ready and willing for a gradual return to work. Her employer, however, was reluctant to allow her to return to work until she’d completely recovered and could perform 100 percent of her usual duties. That’s when WCB nurse advisor Jan Beesley got involved. She called the employer, explained the importance of early return to work, and suggested a plan for the injured worker. The employer agreed and the injured worker returned to modified duties.

The program suited her well, says Dr Stopforth. “By having her gradually return to appropriate work, with her employer’s support, her workplace re-entry was safer than had she stayed home until she could return to a full shift doing her full duties.”

Don Graham, MD, CCFP. A safe and early return to work can benefit injured workers. BCMJ, Vol. 47, No. 4, May, 2005, Page(s) 194 - WorkSafeBC.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

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