Fitness for Duty
A fitness for duty evaluation requires a careful analysis of whether an employee has the current capacity to perform his core job duties, and whether interventions, including psychiatric treatment, may allow the employee to safely return to work in the future. Dr. Ernst begins by translating the employee’s job description into measurable psychological capacities. For instance, a transit operator’s job description may be translated into the capacity to focus while driving, maintain emotional composure, and operate complex machinery. The employee’s ability to perform these psychological capacities is then assessed through a detailed clinical interview, records review, and objective psychological testing. In fitness for duty evaluations, the focus is on the present work capacity, and privacy concerns sometimes necessitate that protected health information, including past mental health conditions, not be included in reports. Thus, Dr. Ernst begins all fitness for duty evaluations with a clear conversation with the referral source about the specific scope of the evaluation. He limits the content of his reports to only the information that is needed by the employer to make a sound decision regarding the employee’s work capacity.
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