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When Should I See an Occupational Medicine Specialist?

When Should I See an Occupational Medicine Specialist?

Occupational medicine is a branch of medicine that focuses on work-related injuries. Occupational medicine, sometimes called occupational health, also focuses on preventing work injuries. For example, Department of Transportation (DOT) physicals, an occupational medicine service, help prevent automobile accidents related to undiagnosed medical conditions, such as epilepsy. 

But how do you know when to see an occupational medicine specialist? 

Drs. Ines Munoz De Laborde and Svetlana Burkhead know that there are many components of occupational health, which is why they've created this guide. 

When should you see an occupational medicine specialist?

More than likely, your employer will help determine when or if you need an occupational medicine health service. You might benefit from occupational health care if:

You are applying for a new job

Some employers require pre-employment drug and/or alcohol screenings prior to employment. Many employers have strict no-drug policies, and including pre-employment testing as part of the hiring process ensures that employers are hiring the best fit for their workplace. 

Your current job requires regular physicals

Commercial drivers must undergo regular DOT physicals in order to hold a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) medical card. DOT physicals must be performed by a certified medical examiner (CME), which is why it’s important to visit an occupational medicine specialist for this type of physical. Additionally, as CMEs, we provide a signed Medical Examiner's Certificate which is valid for up to 24 months.

In addition to a physical exam, we perform a urine test and look for any red flags of conditions that could impact your safety at work. Once the exam is over, we complete the special paperwork that must accompany a DOT physical in order for the DOT to recognize you as medically fit for duty.

Other professions that require “fit for duty” exams include firefighters, police, and pilots.

You’re exposed to irritants at work

Certain work environments expose you to potentially harmful contaminants. For example, a silica exam is an OSHA-mandated physical for any employees who wear respirators for 30 days or more each year. Occupational medicine specialists, such as Dr. Munoz De Laborde and Dr. Burkhead understand the many types of workplace hazards, what types of exams are needed, how to perform these exams, and how to complete the required paperwork.

You were involved in a work-related accident

Occupational health is about preventing workplace injuries as much as it is about treating work-related injuries too. Common workplace injuries include sprains, broken bones, lacerations, needlesticks (especially for healthcare workers), and pulled muscles.

Our team is prepared to treat minor injuries and navigate through the complexities of worker’s compensation cases.

Your employer requests a drug test

Employers may also request random drug tests or tests for suspected drug use. You may also require a drug test if you are involved in an accident at work. Each company has different policies regarding drug testing. 

Key takeaways

Occupational medicine specialists are knowledgeable when it comes to the types of exams workers need, how to document those exams, and how to provide treatment when injuries occur.

If you have questions about occupational medicine, or need to schedule a DOT exam, give us a call at 408-207-4637 or schedule an appointment online.

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