Injured on the job, now what?

Ginger1

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Hi, I'm a new EMT seeking advice on industry norms for handling injuries. After several months of solid work, I had a series of bad lifts with a weaker/new partner and pulled my back. It didn't get better and continued to get worse over the next week and a half, so I finally reported it and was sent home from work by my manager. The next day, I also was discouraged from seeing a doctor, told to use my sick time to cover missed hours, and told I'm to take time off without pay until I felt well enough to work. This sounds strange to me - is this normal with private EMS? I love my work, want to get back to it as soon as safely possible, and I'm concerned I'm not getting the best advice. Thanks in advance for any pointers, experiences you can share.
 

PotatoMedic

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Well you should have filled out l&I paperwork. I would go into work tomorrow to fill out l&I paperwork and if they say you don't need to. Call your state l&I board in their office to confirm you don't need to.
 

NPO

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If you have a job related injury you should report it immediately, even if at first it doesn't seem like you need light-duty. That way it's on the record in case it gets worse.

I'm not a labor law expert, but that doesn't seem right.

My first day in field training at my current job I hurt my back. I reported it, had 4 days off and told them I'd nurse it at home. The next day back I felt great, until my last call. I tweaked it again and couldn't walk. I reported it again and was sent to our occupational health clinic where they ordered 2 weeks light duty.

A coworker of mine had a similar story, but he got 6 months light duty and had to have surgery.
 

mgr22

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Sounds strange to me, too. Instead of having to take time off without pay, you may be eligible for Workers' Comp. Perhaps your company is discouraging you from that route because it could mean higher insurance premiums for them. You might want to start by asking your supervisor or personnel department about a WC claim. There's a possibility that could lead to a pretext for firing you, but I think it's a good practice to try solving work-related problems at the lowest possible level.

The other side of this issue is, I think you should be prepared to handle occasional, mild-to-moderate discomfort in this industry. It's pretty hard to avoid the physical parts of the job. You can do your part by lifting the right way and staying in shape.
 

DrParasite

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sounds pretty typical of private for profit ambulance companies. they discourage on the job injuries form being reported to workman's comp, don't give you what you need, and pretty much tell you it's your fault and your on your own. Had it happen to a friend of mine, who also didn't know better.

your issue will be you waited a week to report the injury.

I'd call the state department of labor and ask them what the rules are. if they have done this to you, they have done this to others, and if they are giving you the run around, only someone with more power and the authority to levy fines is going to make them change their practices.
 
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Ginger1

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Thanks for the feedback so far. Point taken about reporting issues faster. I'm sure my company's top notch, it just feels funny right now. @CCCS, Massachusetts.
 

DrParasite

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I'm sure my company's top notch, it just feels funny right now. @CCCS, Massachusetts.
You said your new to EMS; this is your first EMS job right? so you really have nothing to compare it to right? They could be breaking all the rules, treating you like crap, but because you have nothing to compare it to, you don't know any better..... is that a possibility?

Don't take my word for it: https://www.mass.gov/workers-compensation-for-injured-workers

Let me include the introductory paragraph:
If you were injured at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. If you qualify, you can receive payments to partially replace your paycheck and for medical care related to your injury. You may also be eligible for vocational rehabilitation if you need help getting back to work. If the workers’ compensation insurance company denies your claim, you can file an appeal with the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA), which oversees the workers’ compensation system in Massachusetts.
check out that website, it has some state specific information for you.

BTW, private companies are notorious for taking advantage of naive EMTs, especially those on their first job who don't know any better. If your management is giving you bad information, or passing the expenses for on-the-job injuries onto you (which is why they have workman's comp insurance), than I think you should do your own research for what the law requires, because it sounds like they are doing something potentially shady.
 

johnrsemt

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A good company to work for will send you to occupational health, let them send you to rehab and physical therapy if needed. I was moved into dispatch a few times due to injuries that kept me off the street; didn't need to be paid by Workman's comp, but still got all the medical attention I needed.

{If AFLAC Insurance is available to you get it: At least for illnesses and injuries. People say it is a rip off and not worth it; but I had it at work; got hurt at my PT job, and they paid $125 for the 1st Dr visit, $50 for every follow-up dr visit; $100 for 1st Physical Therapy visit and $25 for every additional visit. They didn't pay for lost wages because my PT job was paying that. That was 11 + years ago so it has probably gone up: but that one injury paid me more than I ever paid into it.
If you don't have access to AFLAC through work check their website, you can get it on your own, it just costs more}.

A bad company to work for will do what your company is doing.
DrParasite is right though, your company and Workman's comp is going to give you a rough time for waiting a week to report it. I have a co-worker at my FT job that got hurt 3 different times and each time was serious enough to be transported to the hospital via ambulance, (and we tried hard to get him to go that way) but he kept refusing and drove himself home, changed clothes and drove himself to the hospital. They fought him each time. It has taken up to 6 months to get surgery at one point. Even Workman's Comp told him after the 1st time to go to the hospital via ambulance if he got hurt again; and he refuses.
 

MMiz

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Go in tomorrow, notify your supervisor of your injury. Heck, send an email right now and go in tomorrow to notify your supervisor in person.

Get medical treatment. See an occupational doctor if you can.

Document, document, document.

This link seems to back up what I say.

Your company is being shady. A good company would have immediately provided you the information you need, send you to a practitioner for evaluation, and do everything they can to make sure you're made whole again.

Good luck!
 
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Ginger1

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Thank you all. Company paid for PT, medical visits, etc., but basically called me a liar in the process. The "risk manager" (think about what that says about priorities) balked at my MD's note finally clearing me to work again because they wrote I was clear to lift to 125lbs with an able partner. I agree with the posters who said the company's being shady. Seeing more evidence of cutting corners re: pt safety, medicare billing, pairing rookies with rookies. I had multiple job offers and wish I'd gone with the municipal

This is a late post now ... but for anyone still reading, would you look for another company or try to stick it out despite growing suspicion the company wants transport monkeys willing to cut OEMS corners not professionals? Is 6 mo EMS experience too little to attract a new job offer?
 

mgr22

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EMSGinger, it seems clear from your last post that you and your employer are developing an adversarial relationship. I wouldn't want to work for a company that thinks I'm a liar. I might have to stay, though, until I could find something better. Do you have options -- i.e., other jobs you could explore that would meet your needs?
 

PotatoMedic

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I would say start looking for a new employer.
 
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Ginger1

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I think I’m most frustrated at myself that I chose this company while I had job offers. I genuinely enjoy working with my pt’s and more experienced emt’s but you’re right to note I probably have different values than my management. I don’t want to continue down an adversarial road.

I haven’t looked at jobs recently. Does my job-related injury hinder my chances to change companies? And, am I merely objecting to what I’ll find at every private company?
 

mgr22

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I haven’t looked at jobs recently. Does my job-related injury hinder my chances to change companies? And, am I merely objecting to what I’ll find at every private company?

I understand why you're asking those questions, but I don't think you'll find definitive answers. In my opinion, you should be more active and less contemplative about your situation. Look for other jobs instead of wondering whether you'll get them. Wait until you work for other companies before deciding whether they'll give you the same problems. Don't think like a victim; take charge of what happens next in your life.
 

PotatoMedic

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And your on the job injury should not affect anything since it seems that it is now resolved and you are back to working full duty.
 
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Ginger1

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Thank you, @PotatoMedic and @chriscemt . I thought polling this forum would be a good way to gauge if what I've found troubling is routine in ems or unique to troubled companies. My company has high turnover.
 
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