Friday, October 21, 2011

Will I or Wont I get SSD?

Here is the handy website for looking up a particular Administrative Law Judge's approval statistics. It is fairly out of date now, but it is fun to look at.

Most Dangerous Jobs

From Risk Management Magazine:

by Morgan O'Rourke
According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Deadliest Catch," a popular television show on the Discovery Channel that chronicles the adventures of Alaskan king crab fishermen in the Bering Sea, is aptly named. Last year, 29 fishermen died from injuries sustained on the job, giving the industry a rate of 116 deaths per 100,000 workers and making it far and away the most dangerous job in the United States.
Logging workers (91.9 fatalities per 100,000 workers), airplane pilots and flight engineers (70.6), farmers and ranchers (41.4), and mining machine operators (38.7) rounded out the top five occupations with the highest fatal work injury rates. To put these numbers in perspective, the fatal work injury rate for all American employees in 2010 was only 3.5 per 100,000 workers.
For sheer numbers, more truck drivers and delivery workers (683) died on the job than those in any other profession. This equated to a fatality rate of 21.8 due to the much larger workforce in this category. The mining industry was particularly hard hit in 2010, as multiple deaths from the Upper Big Branch mine and Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosions helped increase fatalities by 74% over 2009 and inflate the fatality rate from 12.4 to 19.9.
Overall, the Bureau's Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries determined that 4,547 workers were killed on the job in 2010, an amount virtually unchanged from 2009 when 4,551 fatalities occurred. This figure, however, was still low enough to make 2010 the safest year on record, representing a 25% decline in deaths since the census was first conducted in 1992.
TOP 10 MOST DANGEROUS JOBS IN 2010(with fatal work injury rate)
1. Fishermen -- 116.0
2. Logging workers -- 91.9
3. Airplane pilots and flight engineers -- 70.6
4. Farmers and ranchers -- 41.4
5. Mining machine operators -- 38.7
6. Roofers -- 32.4
7. Sanitation workers -- 29.8
8. Truck drivers and delivery workers -- 21.8
9. Industrial machine workers -- 20.3
10. Police officers -- 18.0
Morgan O'Rourke is editor in chief of Risk Management.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Perils of Pain Management

Back in the good old days when I first started doing Connecticut worker's comp law, musculoskeletal and low back claims used to be fairly straightforward. One was injured, they saw their orthopedist and either they did a short course of physical therapy or they were a surgical candidate and they had their problem corrected surgically. The claimant would be out of works maybe six to eight weeks and move on. A few months after that, they would get a PPD rating and we could either get that paid or settle the case.

Now, there is a new and unholy place. It is the place of pain management, or as it is called in some places, physiatry. These areas of medicine have become great profit centers for doctors and hospitals. A claimant gets hurt on the job, sees the orthopedist, and if they are deemed to not be a surgical candidate, the doc sends them to an affiliated "pain management" or "physiatry" or "rehabilitative medicine" physician---frequently found in their own practice--- for treatment. This is, in the case of the worker's comp client, the same as being lead into a dead end alley. Now, rather than than a six to eight week stint of recuperation, the client is likely looking at months and months of "pain management"...typically manifested by epidural steroid injections and things of that nature. It creates a cycle of dependency in the mind of the claimant that, in my opinion, does not improve their outcome medically, or bring their legal matter to a head.

Clients are kept at T, or worse, TP, for weeks or more commonly months on end, doing job searches and not doing much else during the 4 week intervals in their visits to pain management. The lawyers dont get reports from these docs, the insurance companies hate paying indemnity for these long periods, and the whole case just gets bogged down. These sojourns have not, in my anecdotal experience improved results. To the contrary---they seem to make claimants more and more anxious.

In this economy, people want to work. When a claimant is told by their pain management doc that they cant work---or more commonly---can only do light duty---it creates a tremendous impediment to that all important concept of closure. People languish in pain management. Their case drags on longer that it should. Their FMLA expires. They lose their job. It is a bad, bad situation.

Back in the old days, the notion of green penicillin was the great elixir. Closure and a decent monetary benefit got the claimant back to work and brought closure to the case. Now, with pain management, the green penicillin is hard to come by and closure takes a lot longer than it should.