BACKGROUND CONTEXT - A physician's role within a workers' compensation injury extends far beyond just evaluation and treatment with several socioeconomic and psychological factors at play compared with similar injuries occurring outside of the workplace. Although workers' compensation statutes vary among states, all have several basic features with the overall goal of returning the injured worker to maximal function in the shortest time period, with the least residual disability and shortest time away from work.
PURPOSE - To help physicians unfamiliar with the workers' compensation process accomplish these goals.
STUDY DESIGN - Review.
METHODS - Educational review.
RESULTS - The streamlined review addresses the topics of why is workers' compensation necessary; what does workers' compensation cover; progression after work injury; impairment and maximum medical improvement, including how to use the sixth edition of American Medical Association's (AMA) Guides to the evaluation of permanent impairment (Guides); completion of work injury claim after impairment rating; independent medical evaluation; and causation.
CONCLUSIONS - In the "no-fault" workers' compensation system, physicians play a key role in progressing the claim along and, more importantly, getting the injured worker back to work as soon as safely possible. Physicians should remain familiar with the workers' compensation process, along with how to properly use the AMA Guides.
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