I work as an occupational health nurse on an employers site. I work for a different company than the employer. The employer has an in-house modified duty option for an injured employee, which is voluntary. They can opt to do light duty up to seven days and if not improved they must seek a medical evaluation with a provider. They can go to a provider of choice at any time during this period or initially opt not to do the in-house modified duty and go straight to the provider. The question is, as an RN, can I legally apply and revise specific limitations during this period before their filing any claim and seeing a provider?
Nancy Brent replies:
As an occupational health nurse, your role is more independent than many of your nurse colleagues practices are. However, if you are not an advanced practice nurse consistent with the states requirements within which you work (e.g., certification by a national professional nursing organization, advanced degree), you are not able to make the decisions you describe without physician based protocols/standing orders developed by a physician/medical director with whom you consult who works with your employer or the employers worksite where you practice.
If you are not a member of the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses, you should seriously consider joining this association. Its Web site (www.aaohn.org) contains a wealth of information about OHN practice, including Position Statements and Standards of Practice (click on the For Your Practice link). There is also information on CE and Certification Programs for the OHN.