Last week's post on this blog discussed how MRI scans are being used frequently when Arizona employees complain of pain in their lower backs. While these sorts of scans can be a good thing for injured workers in Maricopa County, the reality is that these scans, like other medical evidence, can be interpreted in any number of ways.
For example, in the case of lower back pain, an MRI will either help reveal the cause of the problem or will appear to show that nothing is wrong with an injured employee's back. In the latter case, an employer could come back and claim that an employee does not need workers' compensation benefits for back pain because the pain being complained of is not a "real" injury.
However, an MRI cannot definitively determine whether a person is hurt or really has back pain or not. It is, after all, one medical tool among many that doctors use to diagnose pain. No employer should rely on any single test before arguing that the worker's claim for benefits is unfounded, particularly when that tests shows nothing wrong.
Like many back injuries, other types of workers' injuries can be difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to evaluate with respect to what treatment an employee needs and when they can safely return to work following an injury. Medical evidence can be conflicting, and it can also be very hard to interpret.
Naturally, employers are going to want all injuries to be relatively minor and may, therefore, be inclined to underestimate the type, extent and even the existence of an employee's injury. As this topic can be tough to understand, the employee may want to have experienced workers' compensation advocates at their side so that the employee can successful navigate Arizona's workers' compensation system.