EHS pros often lack a good understanding of what makes for a good occupational physician, especially since corporate occ med departments started to be outsourced decades ago, according to Peter Greaney of Workcare, Inc. speaking Monday at the American Industrial Hygiene Conference and Expo in Salt Lake City.

Here’s what to look for:

  • The occ doc can balance patient advocacy with business concerns
  • The doc has an orientation to return to work
  • The doc knows your industry
  • Knows your regulatory compliance issues
  • Can provide guidance on standard treatments using OTC medications as opposed to prescription meds (opiates, pain killers especially) which studies have shown can prolong return to work up to 30 days
  • Will politely decline employees’ requests to examine non-occupational injuries, pains and complaints. Will not treat body parts not involved in work injuries
  • Appreciates the value of work in the healing process versus remaining out of work. Being out of work for six weeks due to a back injury may lead to depression, and has in the view of Greaney, which leads to further delay in return to work
  • Appreciates psycho-social factors that can be involved in keeping injured employees out of work longer, such as anxiety, family issues, financial issues, and various stresses of life.