Medical providers: Understanding early return-to-work

It’s important for medical providers to understand the impact early return-to-work has on injured workers and their role in helping make it happen.

Early return-to-work benefits employees

Early return-to-work has been shown to help employees maintain their psychological wellbeing because it’s conducive to keeping them active and engaged, according to a Job Accommodation Network report .

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.

~ Don Graham, MD, British Columbia Medical Journal website

How you can help employers bring patients back to work as soon as they are medically able

  • Identify the injured workers’ physical restrictions and list them in a clear, concise and specific manner, using functional terms. For example, “Can lift up to 20 pounds” or “can stand for a maximum of 30 minutes an hour.”
  • Always complete a Work Ability/Return-to-Work form or similar form at each visit, even if the patient doesn’t ask for it. Sometimes, injured workers don’t realize their employers have light-duty work available. Make sure the form includes a date injured workers can return to work and describes what they can do. Provide a copy to the patient and keep one in the medical record.
  • Explain to the worker the benefits of healing at work and staying active.