I have talked to so many people who have been injured at work don’t want to take time off due to an injury, sometime because they truly love their career or sometimes because of their fear of being without income and I can certainly understand both reasons. I always tell injured workers that “you know your body and you know what you are capable of,” however, I am always concerned when a doctor wants to take an injured worker completely out of work but the injured worker insists on working in some capacity. This concerns me for several reasons:
1) If the injury is severe enough that the doctor wants to take you out completely, there is always the concern that even if you follow your doctor’s light duty restrictions to the letter, there is always the potential to be re-injured or make your current injury worse. At a minimum, you’ll probably be dragging out the healing time.
2) By telling the doctor what YOU want or what YOU think is best instead of following his/her professional opinion, you are straining your relationship with your workers’ comp doctor. That might not sound so bad but remember, for workers’ comp, what the doctor says goes, so if you find that the light duty work you pressed for is too much for you, or maybe your employer is asking you to do things you should not be doing, it may be very difficult to get the doctor to re-adjust your work status and once you have been released to any form of work, it is even much more unlikely that the doctor will take you out again.
If the doctor asks you what you think you’re capable of physically doing, tell him the truth – not exaggerating by saying you can do more or by saying you can do less. If you do not know, tell him that you do not know.
3) If you are wrong, and cannot actually do the job, you probably will not have another doctor’s appointment for a month and you will be forced to continue working until you can get the doctor to change your out of work slip. If you take yourself out of work, you can be fired for job abandonment and you would not get a workers comp lost wage check. You need an out of work slip to get paid by workers compensation.
This may sound petty, but it is the truth. I can say with sadness that I have seen several injured workers who are forced to work in a great deal of pain in order to keep their benefits because they did not want to follow the doctor’s initial orders.