Wednesday, May 12, 2010, 08:31 AM - Understanding the CA WC systemeMeg's campaign may be losing ground fast as Poizner tightens the race.
Whitman has been spending money at a rate of 4 cents per second. That may just have to increase.
The CWCI and DWC are out with studies on MPNs and medical treatment satisfaction. That will be fodder for commentary in coming days.
But first, turn to matters of health and work. If you're working long hours, how's your ticker?
A recent study seems to show that working overtime is bad for the heart:
http://www.oxfordjournals.org/our_journ ... ehq124.pdf
Here's further information on the results of the study:
http://www.oxfordjournals.org/our_journ ... ehq116.pdf
I know many of you readers out there are professionals working at a full tilt boogie pace. I'm one of them. But this is a reminder that there can be consequences with those long hours.
Years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Meyer Friedman, a San Francisco cardiologist. Friedman, who died in 2001, had been a prime proponent of the link between Type A behavior and heart disease, popularizing the link in his book (written with Dr. Ray Rosenman) "Type A Behavior and Your Heart". Friedman, based at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco (now part of UCSF), had a quick wit and bright presence.
Friedman served as my medical expert/QME in a number of workers' comp heart cases, making the connection between work-related Type A behavior and heart disease. Two of my defense adversaries in cases of this type were present WCAB members James Cuneo and Al Moresi.
Friedman, who had had heart attacks himself, was always ready to banter with attorneys about their lifestyle choices. Like retired San Francisco orthopedic QME Joseph Bernstein (who always produced a spread of cookies and goodies for attorneys taking his deposition), Friedman was part of a rich tapestry of characters who have been in the California workers' comp system.
Some aspects of this culture have always puzzled outsiders.
I recall a lawyer friend of mine from Arkansas (who helped Bill Clinton on a thing or two) coming along as a sidekick at the deposition of deceased San Francisco cardiologist Embree Blackard. Blackard was being cross examined on "The Theory".
"The Theory" was of course the Type A theory of Meyer Friedman. My lawyer friend always asks how California courts now treat "The Theory".
I tell him it's enshrined in presumptions of compensability for public safety officers with heart trouble.
To learn more about Friedman, here's his obit:
http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/01/us/me ... at-90.html
And here's a wikipedia entry on Friedman:
Sunday, May 9, 2010, 11:25 AM - Understanding the CA WC systemHappy Mothers day to my readers in cyberspace.
I see many more mothers in my workers' comp practice than I did years ago when I began as an applicant attorney. Undoubtedly that's because women in so many families have gone to work in order for the family to make it economically.
When moms get displaced from their jobs because of an injury, the family budget can go into a tailspin.
Those moms often have a full plate. Let's just say that many of them don't have Bobby Flay waiting at home to cook dinner. Mr. Mom may be a trendy thing in some wealthy zip-codes, but it's not the norm in working America.
The AMA Guides (strictly interpreted) allocate pitiful impairment ratings for upper extremity problems suffered by many of the keyboard and hand-intensive jobs performed by women. But those women, moms many among them, have activities of daily living at work and at home that are constantly hand/arm dependent.
This is one reason why the Almaraz II approach to rating impairment has been cheered by many (including many of the defense attorneys I speak to, though they will not say so on the record for fear of losing
business from insurers and employers).
Anyway, here's a toast to the injured worker moms out there....may you have a blessed day today.
Thursday, May 6, 2010, 08:57 AM - Political developmentsThe continuing epidemic of employer workers' comp fraud continues.....
But now it has infected your local bagel provider? Mon dieu! as Inspector Clouseau would have said.
A purveyor of bagels in upscale Bay Area neighborhoods, Posh Bagel had previously been noted for vegan cream cheese and whitefish spread.
Now it's noted for arrests for workers' comp fraud by its owners Cheryl Ann Lee and Jeffrey Ottoveggio and its accountant/controller, Bruce William Campbell. Charged by the California Department of Insurance, they were booked into Santa Clara County jail.
Underreporting payroll to its comp carrier and EDD. Failure to report injuries despite the fact those injuries required medical treatment. A scheme to use Nevada business entities as a subterfuge to claim payroll for employees.
Premium losses to Applied Underwriters and First Comp Insurance are said to be close to $500,000.
As, I've noted before, "It's the Employer Fraud, Stupid":
http://www.workerscompzone.com/index.ph ... 670342ae49
http://www.workerscompzone.com/index.ph ... 818-110358
Tuesday, May 4, 2010, 08:31 AM - Political developmentsShould there be a legal presumption that infectious diseases and neck and back injuries contracted by nurses are work related?
That's the thesis of AB 1994, sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). The bill would apply to more than 350,000 private employees.
A major fight is looming over the bill between the California Nurses Union and other labor organizations and California hospitals and the Chamber of Commerce.
Here's a piece on the bill in today's Sacramento Bee, written by Jm Sanders:
http://www.sacbee.com/2010/05/04/272480 ... %20Stories
Here's a link to the bill's text:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bil ... sm_v98.pdf
And here's an analysis of the bill by the Assembly Insurance Committee:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bil ... _comm.html
Sunday, May 2, 2010, 11:01 AM - Political developmentsMy momma taught me that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Surely that's true for California.
Occupational health and safety enforcement has been in free fall in California. In November 2009, Federal OSHA stats revealed that California issued the lowest rate of serious OSHA citations in the country. In California 19% of citations were issued as serious. The national average was around 43%.
California isn't that much safer. Injuries that could have been prevented on the front end by better safety standards and adequate enforcement turn into problems dumped into the workers' compensation system.
It's always amazed me that some industries resist safety regulations, yet complain about workers' compensation costs. We've recently seen the results of that approach in the West Virginia mine explosion and the Gulf of Mexico oil rig debacle.
A bill to address Cal-OSHA safety enforcement, AB 2774, will be heard in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee on May 5 at 1:30 in Sacramento at the State Capitol Room 447. AB 2774.
Currently the California OSH Appeals Board has taken a narrow approach to defining "serious physical harm", equating it with "serious injury". As a result of the restrictive definition, fewer violations have been issued as "serious".
AB 2774 would bring the Cal-OSHA program in line with Federal OSHA and the Federal OSHA Field Manual.
Under AB 2774, "serious physical harm" would be defined as:
"any injury or illness, specific or cumulative, occurring in the place or in connection with any employment, which is the consequence of a condition, practice, means, method, operation, or process that meets any of the following:
(A) Requires inpatient hospitalization for a period in excess of 24 hours for other than medical observation.
(B) Causes an employee to suffer the loss of any member of the body
(C) Causes an employee to suffer any serious degree of permanent disfigurement.
(D) Could reasonably lead to impairment of a part of the body by substantially reducing its efficiency on of off the job for more than 24 hours
The proposed bill would also make it clear that a single condition, practice, means, method, operation or process can be classified as "resulting in serious physical harm".
Health and safety advocates have argued that the legislation is needed because there is no other means to defined "serious physical harm", given the current position of the Cal-OSHA Appeals Board.
All of this comes at a time when the Feds are examining the Cal-OSHA program. In January 2010 the Federal OSHA program informed Ca-OSHA and the Cal-OSHA Appeals Board that it is conducting a study of enforcement under the state program.
The bill's sponsors are Assembly members Sandre Swanson, Warren Furutani, Bill Monning and Mariko Yamada. Here is a link to a pdf of the current bill text:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bil ... sm_v97.pdf
Also worth checking out is "Workers at Risk: Regulatory Dysfunction at OSHA" by the Center for Progressive Reform. The policy paper summarizes many of OSHA's failures and outlines suggestions for strengthening worker health and safety enforcement: