An Occupational Physician (OP) is a doctor who specializes in managing work-related conditions.
While some Family Physicians and general practitioners have expertise in treating work-related conditions; an accredited Occupation Physician is an expert at the elements involved in assessing the ability to work.
When should you call an Occupational Physician?
Most Family Physicians and General Practitioners treat non-ER level injuries, by submitting a WCB report and making modified work recommendations.
However, Occupational Physicians have a deeper understanding of the relationship between the job demands, the mechanism of injury, the work-relatedness of the injury or illness, evidence-based management, how to optimally work with WCB, and understand OSHA recordability considerations.
They provide extensive insight into:
- work relatedness
- the role of pre-existing conditions
- avoiding unnecessary lost time
- why an injury or illness is taking longer to recover than expected
This expertise can expedite appropriate care, identify, and arrange any required specialty investigations such as diagnostic imaging or surgical review, to ensure that the worker receives appropriate care and safely returns to work as soon as reasonably possible.
What to look for when hiring an OP:
The decisions and advice from an occupational physician can have a major impact on worker health and claims. It is a good idea to verify their academic credentials and ask for references from companies they have provided services to in the past.
Following are benefits your business can have when having a qualified Occupation Physician on-site:
- Quick access to expertise on work-relatedness and compensability
- Insight into WCB claims management and OSHA recordability considerations.
- Quick access to the right care, by the right health care provider, a safe return to work and any specialty services that may be required
- Communication of key issues to the worker, their health care providers, and the employer
- Workers will feel well cared for, knowing that are getting the best medical care possible and their needs are being looked after
Written by: Dr. Gerhard Benadé
Dr. Gerhard Benadé is an Alberta-based Physician with a Post Graduate Fellowship in Occupational Medicine, an MRO registered with AAMRO (the American Association of Medical Review Officers), a member of the Occupational and Environmental Medical Association of Canada and the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.