Occupational Health Issues

Did Your Dermatologist Deliver Your Baby?
Michael Davis - IWIRC Corp.
You would never allow that to happen. It has nothing to do with the education or professionalism of the dermatologist. They're well educated, required to pass boards, and maintain a state license. However, they aren't the best choice to deliver babies. But every day, employers allow "dermatologists" to screen prospective employees.

There are a host of specialists in the field of medicine. Pediatricians specialize in taking care of kids. They know the issues of children and understand there are warning signs for problems. In addition, they know in great detail the laws governing the medical records of minors. Many general practitioners and family medicine physicians have received special training for their younger patients and care for them wonderfully. But when in doubt, parents take their children to a pediatrician.

Why, then, would an employer allow perspective employees to be screened for positions by a general practitioner who may not understand the work environment well enough to determine work fitness?

Specialized physicals aren't routine physicals. When an athlete is traded from one professional team to another, the trade is always contingent upon the athlete passing a specialized physical. The physician performing this physical is well acquainted with the routine, the training structure, and the requirements of an athlete to successfully perform for the new team. Any problems, and the potential trade isn't completed. Yet employers allow their "industrial athletes" to take the field with either an inadequate physical or, worse, no physical at all.

Why should this be an issue to employers? Remember this: once you hire an employee, he or she is yours-flaws and all. If the employee has a pre-existing injury, you're responsible for subsequent new work-related injuries or exacerbations of the old injury-even if it wasn't initially work-related-until the employee ceases to be yours and possibly for the rest of his or her life. In Illinois, should that employee become disabled and unable to return to work because of an aggravation or worsening of his pre-existing condition, you're responsible-not until the employee retires, but until he or she dies.

I recently heard a conversation between Dr. Christine Cisneros, a board-certified occupational health physician, and an employer representative regarding why an employee didn't pass his physical. She told the employer representative that she looks at the individual with all of his strengths and weaknesses, and she wants to know she hasn't jeopardized the chances of that employee or his coworkers going home as whole as when they started work at the beginning of the shift.

If you make hiring decisions, ask yourself a few simple questions: Are we conducting pre-employment physicals? If not, why? If yes, do we have the best professional we can get conducting them? How do you know? Have any employees ever been denied-or even questioned-as to their physical fitness for the job? If your provider has never asked questions, could it be a dermatologist is delivering your baby? IBI