We have been consulted and engaged for services by all of the following groups of Third Party Advocates who deal with cases involving dental health personnel.
- Disability insurance companies
- Lawyers and law firms
- Workers’ Compensation groups
- General insurance corporations
- Litigants dealing with dental personnel
Some of the consultations involve paper reviews of records and reports already assembled in order to determine whether there might be inadequate or inaccurate assessments of the ergonomics implications of a claimed disability, whether there is need for further assessment, or whether the conclusions and prognoses of the reviewers seem reasonable (e.g., regarding degrees of impairment and the effects of conditions and claimed symptoms upon clinical practice).
Most consultations involve the performance of an Ergonomic Practice Assessment (EPA) of the clinician and/or of his/her clinical office settings to determine likely risk factors which might be affecting the impairments or limiting the level and speed of comfortable Return to Work strategies.
It is important to make sure that Ergonomic Practice Assessment (EPA) for the injured or compromised dental professional is completed as soon as possible and coordinated as early as possible with the planned interventions of physiotherapists, other rehabilitation therapists, and medical interventions, in order to optimize the return-to-work plan so that it is not being undermined or negated by ongoing ergonomic compromises in the clinical work setting.
Compromises in the dental clinic can be caused by limitations of the operatory equipment layouts or from limitations in the clinician’s own ergonomic sophistication (which is well documented as being far more common than not among dentists) or both. Until one has a proper Ergonomic Practice Assessment no one could know.
Over the past twelve years of consulting in this area, we have learned that some claims adjustors who review the proposals for interventions on behalf of insurance company clients may not have had an opportunity to deal with clinical ergonomics evaluations and interventions specifically designed for dentists or dental hygienists or other dental clinical personnel.
Historically, whatever has been done in this domain has most often been relegated to physiatrists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, or others who deal with general applications of ergonomics to the whole gamut of human endeavors and occupations.
Proper Functional Capacity Evaluations (FCEs) are also very important pieces of the information picture for each affected clinician. These are occasionally performed under the more general umbrella of the Independent Medical Evaluation (IME). Good FCEs comprise part of the body of information upon which we rely to stage our EPA assessment. Occasionally we perform an EPA during the same day as an FCE is performed by another health professional, particularly where the client must travel from a rural area for these assessments, and the decision has been made to most efficiently address the timing of these evaluations.
There are very few consultants in the world performing evaluations and interventions strictly for dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants.
Dr. Rucker leads a small group of ergonomics consultants which have devoted themselves entirely to the domain of dental office ergonomics, dental equipment deployment, optimizing equipment and technique compromises, and many other strategies. We have enjoyed high levels of success in allowing professionals with ergonomic compromises to be assessed properly and in tailoring interventions to their individual risk profiles to allow them to return to a high level of comfortable clinical practice, often in spite of considerable physiological compromise and tissue damage.
Often individual claims professionals who review assessment and rehabilitation proposals for team members who work in this specialized discipline have had only limited (or no) experience working with a dental clinical ergonomist. Once made aware of the availability of such expertise, they will usually readily avail themselves of it. In general, the sooner the professional can be assessed and interventions (if indicated) recommended and completed, the more likely the smoothest and most rapid the return to work.