FAQ: Time Off from Work After Surgery

There is often a lot of confusion about how a patient should know whether or not to return to work after an injury or surgery. Surprisingly, this decision is generally up to the patient, and NOT the doctor.

Dr. Hyman is authorized to recommend that patients refrain from operating machinery (including driving) while under the influence of anesthesia or substantial mind-altering medication, eg, immediately after surgery or in an emergency situation. Usually we recommend patients avoid driving from the time of surgery until their 1st follow up visit

Doctors determine what IMPAIRMENTS a patient may have and lawyers determine what DISABILITIES a patient may have. Thus, IMPAIRMENTS are defined medically and DISABILITIES are defined legally. There is a big difference between the two.

Dr. Hyman will identify impairments you may have, as a result of your surgery or injury and give you restrictions and activity modifications to follow, irrespective of whether you work or not, or what you do on a day to day basis. Ie, if you are told to avoid squatting or climbing or lifting 10 lbs, that applies whether you are a pilot, a schoolteacher, a hockey star or homeless.

Most people are not totally disabled from working, even though they may be impaired by their condition. They may be partially disabled, and only fit for 'light duty' as long as the restrictions are in place, but true disability is really determined in a court of law.

The reason for this is because jobs vary greatly: if you injure your fingers and couldn't bend them for a few days, you would be considered by a doctor as having a hand impairment. You would be considered legally partially disabled if you were a typist, because you would be unable to type, but if you were an anchorman on the 10 o'clock news you might not be considered disabled at all, because you could still do your regular job.

The restrictions you'd get from the doctor: no gripping, pushing/pulling/carrying etc, would be the same regarding what's best for your hand, but you and your boss would have to decide if you should work or not. That is technically NOT the doctor's decision.

Doctors don't know all the details of everyone's job, so they give the patients their restrictions and leave it up to the patients and their employers to use their judgment.

Dr. Hyman will assign your restrictions, based on your injury primarily, with consideration of the nature of your job, but its up to YOU and YOUR EMPLOYER whether or not you can work within the scope of those restrictions. If there is modified work available to you, then YOU decide whether or not you are going to do it. If no such 'light duty' work is available to you, then you or your employer can decide if you should go to work get transported to work, or work at home or whatever. Don't be bullied by threats of losing your job, money or benefits.

Contact your Employer's human resources division if you need further explanation

Phone: 770-363-8770
Fax: 770-436-8042
Email: team@drjonhyman.com

Tucker Office Location:
1462 Montreal Rd WEST Suite 101
Tucker, GA 30084
Phone: (770) 363-8770
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Buckhead Office Location:
3200 Downwood Circle, Suite 340
Atlanta, Georgia 30327
Phone: (770) 363-8770
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Less than a year after having my rotator cuff repaired by Dr. Hyman my shoulder is better than the one that wasn't injured. The recovery time was so fast my wife thinks I have some kind of super healing power.
- HJ