Fit for Duty and Return to Work Testing

Return to Work

When an employee becomes injured on the job, his or her recovery and well-being are the number one priority. When the time comes for the employee to return to work, our fit for duty testing ensures that he or she is rehabilitated and medically ready to return to work. Fit for duty testing can also help protect the health of current employees, identifying those more likely to be injured.

One aspect of this testing is our functional capacity evaluation (FCE). The FCE is a medical test to measure an employee’s function post-injury. Our FCE is designed to document existing impairment, prove consistency, and create realistic objective treatment goals and return to work recommendations. The FCE is automated and includes criteria to evaluate symptom magnification, inappropriate illness behavior, and validity of performance. (This information is invaluable to objectively move the patient through the system in a fair and timely manner.) It is critical that an FCE be administered at the time of injury to determine severity and legitimacy of the injury. Another FCE is administered during rehabilitation to determine progress, and a post rehabilitation test determines the employee’s ability to return to their job. Functional capacity testing is essential to objectively streamline the rehabilitation process and save employers considerable time and money. An FCE should be performed on all work related injuries.

During the rehabilitation process, as an extension of physical therapy, the provider may offer conditioning and job related rehabilitation exercises aimed at preventing re-injury. Many patients have had months of inactivity with secondary deconditioning and are quite susceptible to reinjury upon returning to work. As a result, progressive cardiovascular exercises are implemented to improve aerobic conditioning. Also, work simulated exercise programs are implemented to reinforce the person's self-confidence, educate him or her about proper work related lifting techniques, and strengthen the muscles necessary for a permanent return to work. It has actually been documented that negligence regarding injury is negated significantly for employers who work with healthcare facilities that provide job simulation to ensure a safe return to work.

Fit for Duty

This testing can also be used as a diagnostic to ensure that current employees are still healthy and fit enough to perform their current duties. This is critical to preserving the health and welfare of an employer's workforce and controlling costs, especially with an aging workforce. Two incidences supporting the effectiveness of fit for duty testing involved long term employees who had deteriorated in their ability to perform routine job tasks. Both tests revealed early stage neurological symptoms that were diagnosed after the provider recommendation for further studies and appropriate medical care. Should those individuals have been injured while working, the company involved would have been liable for that person’s disability for the duration of the disease. In addition, job specific testing reveals that many employees actually work with discomfort while performing job tasks in a dangerous manner. Such testing allows instruction in proper body mechanics, lifting techniques and simple exercises that can be done on the job to prevent degenerative problems. Fit for duty testing allows the employer to work with long term employees to ensure their safety at the work site while considering the effects of the aging process.

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