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Some calls from injured workers really piss me off because of the injustice that they are experiencing. The decisions insurance companies make are made with a bottom-line dollar amount in mind and not at all on the health of the people they have insured.

The most recent shocking call was from a woman who hurt her back on the job. There is no dispute that her injury is work-related, at least not to any reasonable person. She has no history of back trouble and felt a pop while lifting heavy materials on the job.  When she felt the pain, she took a step and tripped over some materials which caused her to fall and sprain her foot. She passed the drug test, reported the injury immediately, went to the doctor right away, let the doctor know she was hurt at work, and has been compliant with the recommended treatment.

This should be as straightforward of a case as there is. But of course, it’s not.

The MRI she had showed multiple herniated discs.  She has shooting pains down her leg.  On top of all that, she’s in a boot for her foot.  Her job doesn’t offer any light-duty or accommodations.  She has been treating with the company clinic who released her to return to work full duty despite the MAJOR back injury.

These company clinics are the worst. Often you aren’t treating with a medical doctor and very rarely do you see a specialist when you need one. In this case, she has to be with an orthopedic doctor for her back condition and might need one for her foot too.   She doesn’t have to treat with the company clinic and shouldn’t.

No reasonable person would say it’s a good idea to go back to a labor job while dealing with multiple herniated discs.  She’s a long way from recovery and working a job where she has to lift will almost surely make her condition worse if she can lift it all. Honestly, most credible doctors would say she can’t work in the walking boot.

Company clinics are designed to provide low-cost medical care for injured workers, but they are not meant for anyone who is seriously hurt and unless you are in a union who has agreed that you will go there if you are hurt (this is true for City of Chicago workers for example), you don’t have to go there. And even if you do agree to go, you can still choose your own doctor and should.

The casualness with which they are treating this hard-working woman is what has me so fired up. They are putting her in a situation where she might never physically be the same.  It’s wrong.  It’s cruel.  And we can only hope that she’s come to us in time to get this going on the right track.