I cannot believe my good luck. It was the veritable needle in the haystack, yet there it was. I've said several times that I am the Jerry Springer of workers' comp. While others, more burdened with intellectual prowess and stoic dignity than I possess, write lengthy expositions concerning highly technical legal and medical topics, I write about the “ations”. I merrily plunder along discussing such workaday issues as urination, fornication, defecation, masturbation, oral stimulation, and the like; all or most of which have been tied to employment risk or workers' compensation stories.
Yet I have never had the opportunity to write about constipation. Like the subject itself, I've wanted to, but have just been unable. This morning that changed.
Up early and scanning the news, I came across a Canton, Ohio news story discussing wide variety of workers' comp claims seen in that area. Two, actually three things caught my attention about this article. First, it was obvious that the reporter, just like John Q. Public, had no idea how workers' comp works before they wrote this article, and likely barely understands it today. Either that or they are very skilled at dumbing down topics so that any imbecile can understand them (I know I did).
Second, there was the Chairman of a county safety council who was quoted as saying he would “recommend an employer pay for a minor injury out-of-pocket, rather than using workers' compensation funds. That way, the injury gets addressed, and the accident doesn't count against the employer's workers' compensation premium.” Yeah, that is great advice. Nothing could ever go wrong with that scenario.
But the topic for today is the third item that caught my eye, as well as my imagination. Specifically it was this section:
In Stark County, most of the awarded claims from 2010 to 2013 were for sprains, open wounds and contusions, according to state workers' compensation data. A handful were for nonvenomous insect bites that didn't become infected. A few were for splinters without major open wounds or infection. One was for constipation.
And there it was. One was for constipation. I swear I saw heavenly lights and heard angelic music when I came across that sentence. This was definitely one for my wheelhouse.
How the hell does that even happen? And who would want to actually file a claim for that? I suppose it could be the result of a chemical exposure, but I would think constipation would have been a symptom of the injury or medication, – a comorbidity issue if you would - not the injury itself. Perhaps it was a Quality Assurance employee for the folks that make Immodium – and a particular batch was a tad too strong. Other than that, I am at a loss as to how constipation could result as being the primary injury in a workers' compensation case. I can't figure it out. I'm stumped. I keep going back to try, but I can't. It is very frustrating, knowing the answer should be in me - I can feel it - but I just can't get it out.
It is possible that this is merely a poorly worded result from a reporter who might not fully understand the topic at hand. Perhaps the constipation was mentioned as part of things workers' comp ultimately ends up treating, and was not the primary claim issue. That would make more sense, but it is not nearly as fun to write about.
I have been unable to determine how many work related constipation injuries the country suffers in a year. It could be in the thousands. It is possible I have tapped into an unmet market – a group with needs being vastly underserved by the industry. After all, where do these workers' go when they can't, you know, GO? Before I go out and launch workersconstipation.com (don't bother looking, I already bought it), I should probably do more research.
In the meantime, people suffering this particular malady may want to follow the advice of a well placed safety council chairman, and pay for this injury themselves. It would be simpler, and far less paperwork. Frankly, handling claims for constipation sounds like nothing but a pain in the rear.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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