Dr. Steven Feinberg said at the DWC Conference, “We are the enemy to ourselves sometimes in not communicating,” He further explained that a lack of communication between examiners and doctors leads to ineffective return-to-work plans, unnecessary medical treatment and rising claims costs. When there is good communication between doctors and claims examiners, injured workers return to work faster, obtain prompt and efficient treatment and it can minimize their disability.
The key is to keep an open line of communication. Dr. Feinberg said this is not currently the norm and is "rather dramatic." It is also important to keep the injured worker advised as to what is happening. Receiving Utilization Review denials can cause stress to an injured worker.
Bill Zachary agreed that there needs to be more communication. He indicated that doctors should advise the employer or claims examiner when an injured worker is seen, especially due to mail delays. He further stated that the parties should not be afraid to call each other.
“Pick up the phone, call the doctor, ask about what you don’t understand about the diagnosis,” he said. “For the doctor, pick up the phone, talk to the examiner and make sure you understand what the status of the claim is. There’s opportunities for communication here.”
Employers also play a role and need to promptly report claims. They should not discourage an employee from filing a claim. Employers that keep in contact with their injured workers after the injury, tend to have better claims outcomes. An injured worker wants to know they are being taken care of.
When examiners and physicians fail to communicate over the course of a claim, it can lead to ineffective return-to-work plans, unnecessary medical procedures and rising claim costs, Feinberg and two other comp experts said during last week’s Division of Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference.