The term “medical rehabilitation” refers to the planning and coordination of health care services.
The workers' compensation rules provide that the goals for medical rehabilitation are:
To assist in the restoration of injured workers as nearly as possible to the worker’s preinjury level of physical function.
These medical rehabilitation professionals are usually registered nurses. The rules also provide that medical case management includes, but is not limited to:
Case assessment, including a personal interview with the injured worker, development, implementation and coordination of a care plan with health care providers and with the worker and family; evaluation of treatment results; planning for community re-entry, return to work with employer of injury and/or referral of further vocational rehabilitation services.
The injured worker’s initial contact with a medical rehabilitation professional is at the doctor’s office. These medical rehabilitation professionals almost always insist on accompanying the worker on every trip to their doctor’s office.
Injured workers in North Carolina need to understand: As a practical matter, the rehabilitation professional's function is to try to persuade the doctor to employ as little and as inexpensive treatment as possible, and to encourage the doctor to sign forms stating that the employee is able to go back to work and to minimize or eliminate the return to work restrictions set by the doctor.
Towards that end, many of these nurses seek private conferences with the doctor outside the presence of the employee. During these private conferences, the nurses use all their powers of persuasion to try to convince the doctor that the employee is not injured as seriously as the employee claims, and that the employee is capable of greater physical activity than the employee claims.
Our workers' comp lawyers in Raleigh hasten to point out again that there are some nurses who exercise their independent judgment and who genuinely are concerned about the welfare of the employee. Although such nurses are out there diligently working, workers' comp claimants should be aware that consistent medical reports and tests should be conducted and show the true extent of injuries. Sometimes it helps to have a workers' comp lawyer advocating on behalf of the employee to ensure the proper treatment is maintained and provided.