If you are injured at work and your doctor tells you to stay home for several days or more, you will eventually be contacted by someone who refers to herself as a “CBP nurse,” “agency nurse,” or “DOL nurse.” In reality, this woman works for a company called Managed Care Advisors (MCA), contracted by CBP, whose job is to get injured employees back to work as quickly as possible.
Although she can be helpful in finding a doctor for employees to see, employees are under no obligation to work with her, nor are they required to go to a doctor recommended by her. The only people an injured employee has to respond to are their supervisor, Sector staff, and DOL nurses; DOL nurses actually work for DOL, nurses from MCA do not.
The more time you spend away from work on either COP, LWOP, or sick leave, the harder the MCA nurse will try to push you and your doctor to get you back to work.
From 20 CFR § 10.506:
To aid in returning an injured employee to suitable employment, the employer may also contact the employee’s physician in writing concerning the work limitations imposed by the effects of the injury and possible job assignments. (However, the employer shall not contact the physician by telephone or through personal visit.) When such contact is made, the employer shall send a copy of any such correspondence to OWCP and the employee, as well as a copy of the physician’s response when received.
In other words, the MCA nurse and the agency may not call your doctor, or show up in person. They are allowed to communicate in writing, but when they do, the injured employee is supposed to get a copy of the letter and the doctor’s response. Del Rio Sector has generally done this properly in the past couple of years, but MCA is still not following the regulation.
While we address MCA’s continued violations, injured employees who do not want their doctor to communicate with MCA need to ensure their doctor’s office identifies anyone who calls about the employee and tells them they are not authorized to disclose information to MCA. Your doctor is, however, required to disclose information to DOL, and injured employees are required to ensure CA-17s are provided to the agency.
If you hear of MCA personnel improperly contacting your doctor, notify a union rep or report the issue directly to DHS OIG.