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CMA updates return-to-work policy

Because of physicians' ever-increasing degree of responsibility in the return-to-work process, the CMA has updated its return-to-work policy, The treating physician's tole in helping patients return to work after an illness or injury. It is the second time the policy has been revised in three years.

The updated policy contains several new elements:

  • a description of the employer's role in helping patients return to work
  • the role of a return-to-work coordinator (who may or not be the physician) as an important facilitator in ensuring a timely return-to work process
  • a recommendation to develop educational sessions to support physicians wishing to assume the role of timely return-to-work coordinator
  • support for billing third parties (not patients) for the provision of services
  • a recommendation for stricter patient-consent requirements

The changes were made after consultation with groups that included the Canadian Medical Protective Association, Canadian Ophthalmological Society, Canadian Psychiatric Association, College of Family Physicians of Canada, Canadian Spine Society, Canadian Rheumatology Association and the Occupational Medicine Specialists of Canada (OMSOC).

"We received considerable feedback when we sent out a draft of the revised policy, and many of these suggestions have been integrated into the final document," said Dr. Trina Larsen Soles, chair of the CMA's Committee on Health Policy and Economics. She noted that input was sought from the OMSOC on several occasions because these specialists play such a major role in the handling of return-to-work issues.

CMA President Anna Reid described the policy update as "timely and important" because patients' return-to-work issues are dealt with by physicians in many specialties.

Queries about the updated policy can be forwarded to Aly Pira, aly.pira@cma.ca.

Forward any comments about this article to: cmanews@cma.ca.