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Columbus Workers' Compensation Law Blog

BWC to Launch New Pilot Program for Montgomery, Ross and Scioto Counties

On October 15, 2018, the BWC will be launching a pilot program to support employers willing to hire workers struggling to overcome an addiction to opioids and other dangerous substances1. With the opioid crisis currently being a big issue in Ohio, many employers are having a difficult time finding qualified applicants who do not have a history of substance abuse or addiction. In Montgomery County alone, 521 accidental overdose deaths accrued in 20172. This is why the BWC has made this program available for Montgomery, Ross and Scioto counties. The BWC will be partnering with the counties Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health board (ADAMH). The job of the ADAMH board will be to identify eligible employers and employees, disperse funding among employers as needed and measure the results of the program3. The BWC then, will be in charge of the training of supervisors and managers along with reimbursement for drug testing and providing a venue for employer's to share "second chance" stories. In Ohio, opioid addiction, abuse and overdose deaths cost the state $6.6 billion-$8.8 billion each year4. The state instead hopes to put more money into helping Employers hire, manage and retain workers by providing $5 million over two years as needed by employers. Small businesses sometimes feel a burden when it comes to drug testing employees because of the amount of time and money it costs5. This means that some businesses tend not to hire applicants who have a history of substance abuse or addiction. With this pilot program, the BWC reimburse employers for drug testing allowing the employer not to feel burdened. Penny Dehner, Executive Director of the Pain Valley ADAMH board says, "If someone tests positive, we want them to give people a second chance... but we have to make sure there are treatment options available for them, and there's someone to track that" 6. Studies show that people on a pathway to recovery show more success when they are employed7. The opioid crisis is lowering the labor force participation rate in Ohio. The BWC is trying to put a stop to it and get people on the right path to recovery8!

Officers at Ross Correctional Institution are Denied Workers Comp Benefits

On August 29, 2018, just before 9:00am, an inmate at the Ross Correctional Institution, exhibited signs of a possible overdose thought to be Fentanyl. Fentanyl, a legal synthetic opioid, can become airborne, entering through the lungs, skin and eyes. After 29 individuals including 4 nurses, 23 correctional officers and 2 inmates started showing signs of illness, it was clear that everyone who came in close proximity to the inmate had been exposed. Test results later confirmed that they had all been exposed to a fentanyl and heroin mixture. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. It only takes 2.3 milligrams of fentanyl for someone to overdose. 28 of the exposed individuals were treated on scene and later taken to the hospital for observation, while the 29th individual, an inmate, was treated on scene and not transported. A hazardous material unit then came in and cleaned all the affected areas. Hundreds of additional does of Narcan were then left at the facility and given to the local hospital incase other individuals began to show signs of exposure.

BWC New Rule on Behavioral Assessment Payment

Until recently, medical treatment in workers compensation claims have been limited to treatment of conditions that are "allowed" in the claim.1  Allowed conditions are medical conditions that are proven to have resulted from a compensable work-related injury or occupational disease.2  The BWC has now taken steps to address cognitive, emotional, behavioral, social and psychological issues in a claim that are not directly related to the allowed conditions.3 Instead, these issues are believed to have arisen after the allowed condition, and these issues are believed to prolong pain and disability of the allowed condition. This does not include mental illness and psychological disorders, but instead, normal emotional responses that many people experience following a serious injury.4  The idea of this new rule is to allow injured workers to get the guidance they need, before these issues turn into something more serious such as depression or opioid addiction, hindering the ability for the injured worker to heal.

Your Choice to Choose a Physician

According to the book, Ohio Workers' Compensation Law, written by Phillip Fulton, under R.C. § 4123.651 injured workers are entitled to freely choose a physician to treat a covered injury. This includes both the initial choice of physician and any decision by the injured worker to change physicians. The Bureau of Workers Compensation may require the injured worker to give notice of change in treating physician and the reason for change. Once a claimant goes to a private physician for treatment other than on an emergency basis, the claimant is generally regarded as having chosen that physician. Before 1959 employees didn't have a choice of physician. Choosing a treating physician and notifying the Bureau of your choice is important because authorized payment for treatment is only allowed by one physician. According to O.A.C. § 4123-7-05, the Bureau will not approve payment of medical fees for treatment rendered by more than one physician for the same condition over the same period of time. There is however one exception. If the BWC or self-insurer has authorized treatment where a consultant, anesthetist or assistant is required, or it is necessary for treatment to be seen by a specialist, then the BWC can authorize payment for medical fees. Not all licensed practitioners are qualified as treating physicians. Revised code § 1737.01 (A) defines "licensed physicians and surgeons" as persons certified under R.C. § 4731.14, which certification is limited to medical doctors and doctors of osteopathy. A medical doctor or osteopath may therefore be the treating physician. A chiropractor may also be the treating physician, because R.C. § 4734.09 specifically provides that the chiropractor is a physician for the purpose of chapter 4123.

Can I be compensated for an injury that occurs on the way to a medical examination ordered by the BWC?

A Court of Appeals has held that injuries sustained by the claimant while traveling to or from a Bureau medical examination are compensable "as being directly and proximately caused by circumstances that arose out of employment as the original injuries and obligations necessitated by those injuries in order to participate in the Workers' compensation fund, directly resulted in the new injuries." 

What is Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)?

Ohio Administrative §4121-3-32(A)(1) defines Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) as a treatment plateau at which no fundamental functional or physiological change can be expected within reasonable medical probability.

Social Security Benefits: Tips, Tricks, and What to Look out for

In 2017, Two Million people in the United States applied for disability benefits, but only 762,141 were approved. This means that 4 in 10 applicants who claimed they were too disabled to work, met the Social Security Administrations guidelines for approval.1  To be approved for benefits, you must meet certain criteria. You will be denied if you do not meet the basic non-medical requirements, your medical condition will not last long enough or isn't severe enough, you won't cooperate with the SSA, the SSA cannot get in contact with you, your disability is primarily due to drug or alcohol abuse, there's not enough medical evidence, you've been convicted of a crime, or you have committed fraud. All of these things will get your application denied immediately.

What is Statutory Permanent Total Disability Compensation?

Statutory permanent total disability compensation is different from permanent total disability compensation. Statutory permanent total disability compensation is granted to a person who has lost both eyes, both hands, both arms, both legs, or both feet, or any combination of each, in an industrial accident. Similarly to permanent total disability, statutory permanent total disability compensation was created to benefit the injured worker for the remainder of the injured workers' life. However, unlike PTD, under statutory permanent total disability compensation, an injured worker may still be eligible for compensation even if the injured worker is capable of working, or is currently working.

Common Construction Worker Accidents

The Centers for Disease Control and prevent reported that more than 9 percent of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2009 were sustained by construction workers. That year, construction workers suffered 4.3 nonfatal injuries and illnesses per 100 workers.

Occupational Illness

It has been about six weeks since we discussed how heat illness can put people who work outdoors in the summer at serious risk. Many workers are not vulnerable to heat illness, due to the nature of their jobs, but may still develop an occupational illness that makes them seriously ill, and may even cause their death.

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The Bainbridge Firm, LLC

Columbus Office
900 Michigan Avenue
Columbus, OH 43215

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Phone: 614-545-9990
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198 East Center Street
Marion, OH 43302

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Cambridge, Ohio 43725

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Waverly, OH 45690

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1021 N. Limestone Street
Springfield, OH 45503

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