Workers Comp Zone


This was a week where I personally learned one of the obstacles injured workers face.

I was lucky. The malady was not industrial. Between my persuasive powers and the fact I knew the doctor, a thirty day wait for an appointment was reduced to one-half day.

There was no UR hoop to navigate. My bleeding and swollen finger would be addressed.

What did I learn in the process that relates to workers’ comp?

That even a minor injury can sometimes knock a worker-off task.

In this instance it was minor knuckle surgery. Surgery that was in and out at an ambulatory surgery center.

Surgery at 8 am, under a light general anesthetic, and back to work by lunchtime. No post surgical pain meds given, and none requested.

But it was interesting to experience the effect of having even one digit immobilized and anesthetized.

For several days it’s been hard to type. Keyboard usage is fundamental to modern lawyering. Answering e mails. Sending instant messaging to staff.
Holding a briefcase and an umbrella.

So it’s been hunt and peck at a keyboard. Productivity slowed.

I also got a glimpse of the disruptive effect the medical system can have on an individual. Schedules are disrupted. Other tasks-or pleasures-get canceled or delayed.

Suddenly there are consultations. Pre-op appointments. Trips to the lab for pre-op blood panels. Trips to get an EKG before the doctor will do a simple surgery under anesthesia. Surgery itself.

And the family is affected. The spouse misses work to provide a ride home.

And then post op appointments.

For a number of workers this becomes the steady routine, sometimes for years on end.

Frankly, it’s exhausting. It’s easy to see how ambition gets sapped, and attitudes can deteriorate. And it’s no surprise that employers would sometimes get cranky if a worker’s productivity dropped off as a result.

Then there’s the humbling aspect of it all.

You may feel healthy overall striding into the surgery center in blue jeans and boots.

But suddenly you’re wearing a gown that barely ties in the back. You’re wearing little paper booties with faint rubber no-slip strips. And you’re told to put on a blue hair net. An iv is in your arm.

Told to avoid drinking any liquids, you are in caffeine withdrawal as you await the event.

No wonder you feel vulnerable.

My point is that even where one is grateful for having excellent doctors and the most efficient care, entanglement with the medical system is a psychic drain.

Not enough attention is paid to this in our comp system. With lives disrupted, work habits and routines get disrupted. It can all run downhill.

Julius Young

Category: Medical treatment under WC