Herniated disc and work restriction

Posted
by AnnieNHRN AnnieNHRN Member Nurse

Specializes in med/surg, ER, camp nursing. Has 10 years experience.

I am recovering from a herniated disc L5-S2 injury (not work related). Have been off of work for the last 2 weeks and got the OK from my neurosurgeon to go back to my Med/Surg job with a 30 lbs lifting restriction. I will be seeing employee health tomorrow to hopefully get the OK to get back to work. They said it would be up to my boss if she would allow me to work with lifting restrictions. Yikes!?! Can she refuse to let me return to work? Has anyone gone through this? How should I play this? Should I get my union involved?

Thanks

Kabin

Kabin

897 Posts

Good questions. They should be able to come up with some light duty work. It may not be full time though.

jessiern

jessiern, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg. 611 Posts

At least where I work, light duty means stay at home. As my supervisor put it, "there is no such thing as light duty in med-surg nursing". Maybe if you are at a larger facility it will work out a little better, though.

Hoozdo, ADN

Specializes in ICU, Research, Corrections. Has 15 years experience. 1,554 Posts

It wouldn't hurt to get your union involved, since you have the luxury of an union.

In my state, the lifting requirements at all hospitals is 50 lbs. Also, hospitals are not required to give you light duty unless it was a Workman's Comp injury and a WC doctor orders it.

mamamerlee

mamamerlee, LPN

Specializes in home health, dialysis, others. Has 35 years experience. 949 Posts

Talk to a union rep. Many places have no such thing as light duty. This means that if you got hurt on the job, you will be out on worker's comp as long as necessary, or you may end up on short or long term disability. If you were injured off the job, you may be out of luck. They have no obligation to let you return to work if you cannot perform all your duties.

I was injured off the job, while I was unemployed. I worked briefly at a desk job, but it didn't work well for me. Now I cannot find a new job. 35 years of experience, and the market where I live is saturated with out of work RNs.

Edited by mamamerlee
spelling

Lacie

Lacie, BSN, RN

Specializes in jack of all trades. 1,037 Posts

Also if you were with your employer at least one year you can qualify for FMLA for a total of 12 weeks. Your employer is not obligated to provide a "light duty" position unless it's part of your union contract. I've always kept short and long term disability insurance just to be on the safe side with riders on all my credit accounts. I have the Quacker lol.

AnnieNHRN

AnnieNHRN

Specializes in med/surg, ER, camp nursing. Has 10 years experience. 101 Posts

Just wanted to update: My very kind manager has agreed to let me go back to work with the lifting restriction! I am very lucky.

This of course will have to be temporary. Will see my neurosurgeon in a couple of weeks to hopefully get the restriction lifted.

Thanks for all you're responses. I realize how lucky I am...

mcneillmama3

mcneillmama3, BSN, RN

Specializes in Geriatrics, Community Care Nursing, CCM. Has 14 years experience. 77 Posts

There is no such thing as light duty in nursing. I have been suffering with degenerative joint disease ever since i was 27 and now I'm 51. I blew out a disk in my back in 2008 and another time in 2001. The hospital cannot offer light duty or a desk job if there is not one available. You also fill out on your employment application that you are able to carry out the essential duties of your job with or without reasonable accommodations. The hospital or nursing can legally not take you back to work with a lifting restriction, provided they apply the rule consistently to everyone, not just ppl with disabilities. Also depending on what state you live in - I live in NC - you could live in an at will employment state. On every application in one of those states the fine print will say something like "either party may terminate this employment agreement with or without cause at any time without notice. I have already been let go from a private duty case I was working the first time I had a disk blow because I could not lift the patient and the family did not have a Hoyer Lift. Now I"m going through this again. I just now had an MRI done-have been fighting the family doctor for 3 years now to get this diagnostic test done I should have had done three years ago. My question is why would a family doctor not order an MRI of the lower back, if a rheumatologist and an ER doctor who saw me said I needed it done at that time? I've been mentioning it to him at every check up and finally had show my you know what to get it ordered this time. I've got two protruding disks in my lumbar spine and arthrititc changes in the T11-T12. What are nurses supposed to do for a living when our bodies start turning on us.

klone, MSN, RN

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership. Has 16 years experience. 14,293 Posts

Just wanted to update: My very kind manager has agreed to let me go back to work with the lifting restriction! I am very lucky.

This of course will have to be temporary. Will see my neurosurgeon in a couple of weeks to hopefully get the restriction lifted.

Thanks for all you're responses. I realize how lucky I am...

Just curious - how long ago did you herniate your disc, and did you try other things first, like epidural steroid injections? Since you mentioned your neurosurgeon, I assume that means you had surgery? How long ago and what was your recovery like?

mcneillmama3

mcneillmama3, BSN, RN

Specializes in Geriatrics, Community Care Nursing, CCM. Has 14 years experience. 77 Posts

I have not had surgery. I've had knee surgery back in the 80s when the knee cartilage deteriorated. I've been fighting this for years now. I've been to physical therapy which I have been doing at home. I put 6-7 miles per day on a recumbent bike, followed with a weight lifitng routine, followed by stretching my back and bouncing for 5 min per day on a stability ball. I am country line dancing 2 hours each week. I'm doing eveything I can naturally to try and heal the disk and be as pain free as possible. My basement looks like a gym now. I've been using TENS unit therapy, therma wraps on my lower back during the winter months. I've seen a chiropractor. I'm taking Glucosamine Chondroitin supplements, Flax Oil supplements, eating beets, leafy greens, walnuts, antioxidant berries, sweet potatoes and applying BioFreeze to my joints when I get up in the AM. It takes me longer and longer to get going in the mornings. I am fatigued on top of it. Surgery will not help degenerative cartilage disease. There are only so many steroid injections a person can have each year and the procedure is not comfortable. I have high BP, so I have to be careful of steroid injections. They will run your BP and blood sugar up. Eventually the condition will just take over your whole body and there are only so many surgical procedures a body can tolerate. Exercise helps with the pain and the stiffness, but I find myself getting slower and slower every morning. I can't maintain any position for any length of time without my back locking up, so I have to keep moving. I'm OK once I get moving. Sitting still or lying still or standing still in one position is the killer. The reason I have to see a neurosurgeon or specialist is because a family doctor will not fill out paperwork for job acommodations. From what I read on the JAN website, which is a branch of the Federal Government, I don't think I even need a doctor to fill out everything. All the documents look to me like the employee fills out the paperwork and tells their employer what reasonable job accommodations they would need to do the job. Then you just attach your medical records, like a copy of your MRI report or Xrays or copies of the drugs you take, etc. to back up your claim. It would be helpful if some of you Registered Nurses out there would go on the Job Accommodations Network website and research this behind me to make sure I am understanding this correctly. I printed a sample form and there isn't even a space or indication for a doctor's signature. So I don't know where my family doctor is getting this. Can not any quack with and M.D. behind his name give me some advice on how many hours I should or should not be on my feet, how much weight I should or should not be lifting, etc. It doesn't sound that complicated to me what I am asking. I guess if I went in their wanting a Rx for Vicodin or Morphine, he wouldn't have a problem writing that up for me. My goals is to deal with this problem without surgery, without drugs and without spending $13000 or more just to have reasonable acommodations on my job.

Double-Helix, BSN, RN

Specializes in PICU, Sedation/Radiology, PACU. Has 11 years experience. 1 Article; 3,377 Posts

The original post made by Annie dates back to 2009. I'm sure her situation has resolved and the laws may have changed during that time.

macniellmama3, I suggest you contact a lawyer about your rights and options in this situation. They have specific knowledge and education related to the law that, even as nurses, we can't offer you. Best of luck in your situation.

mcneillmama3

mcneillmama3, BSN, RN

Specializes in Geriatrics, Community Care Nursing, CCM. Has 14 years experience. 77 Posts

I was talking to my husband about it last night. I told him we might end up spending less money if I just went ahead and talked to a disability lawyer. They have their own doctors and legal nurse consultants that work with them on cases. I already feel like I've been railroaded by both my family doctor and a rheumatologist. The rheumat did absolutely nothing and charged me 160$ for that office visit that my insurance would not pay for, and the family doctor was told 3 years ago by the ER doctor that treated me the last time my back locked up that I needed an MRI done then. That was in 2008. My doctor just now ordered the MRI in October 2011. Why the delay on his part. There is not telling how much insult I have added to the injury by walking around undiagnosed for 3 years. A lawyer may be able to get me a referral for Vocational Rehab where I can learn a new skill or new career and I may not even have to pay for the training. I've spent a fortune just trying to keep a nursing license all these years.