VRCs Who Play Doctor Need a Timeout

sadie1Recently, I attended a daylong seminar on Workers Compensation. One of the speakers was a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor (VRC). She had conducted an informal survey of other VRCs about what they do when there is “conflicting medical information.” Frequently, there are disagreements between the attending physician and the Department’s so-called Independent Medical Examiners (IMEs) regarding an injured worker’s work restrictions and treatment plans.

Unfortunately, many VRCs said they would get a “preponderance of medical” usually through another IME. Others mentioned they would simply ask the claims manager (who of has little or no medical training) which medical information to use. Another VRC suggested obtaining an IME first, then meeting with the attending physician to convince him or her to concur with the IME report. Only a few seem to follow the legal mandate that special consideration be given to the attending physician.

The VRC also spoke about a situation where a VRC was directed by the Department not to submit a report, in the injured worker’s favor, because the Department did not want it in the file. Rather than accept the VRC’s opinion, the Department told her to close vocational services as “VRC no longer available” even though she was certainly available. Sad, but not surprising. The Director of the Department spoke at the conference. It will be interesting to see if she looks into this problem.

Dane D. Ostrander, Attorney at Law
Williams, Wyckoff & Ostrander, PLLC

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