By Ray Bourhis, Esq. & Alexander MacDougall, Esq.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) may also be referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis, post-viral fatigue syndrome, and chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome. The symptoms associated with CFS include fatigue, loss of memory or concentration, unexplained muscle pain, enlarged lymph nodes in the neck and under arms, headaches, joint pain, sore throat, and unrefreshing sleep. Generally speaking CFS cannot be cured. For most victims their only option is to treat the symptoms – often with medications that can actually compound the disorder.
Using the example of a gynecologic oncology surgeon whose regular duties include anterior and posterior exenterations, hysterectomies, total pelvic exenterations, splenectomies, and large and small bowel surgeries. The surgeon is regularly performing surgical procedures that require precision down to the micro millimeter. Any lapse of concentration as a result of fatigue, muscle or joint pain could have grievous consequences. This is one of the primary reasons why surgeons and other medical professionals with disabling conditions must be viewed very differently than most other LTD claimants. As we have said before, medical professionals who are unable to perform the same surgeries in the same manner pre and post-disability are totally, nor residually, disabled.
In addition to the medical and functional issues, for medical professionals there are also E and O and ethical issues associated with the onset of any disability. Informed consent would require disclosure to both patients and professional insurers any impairment that could affect patient care or professional performance. If this is not done properly there could be disastrous consequences. For a claimant to deal directly with his/her insurance company could also present substantial problems. The insurers are more knowledgeable and experienced in claims matters than any layperson. And traps can be strewn about like land mines. Claimants would be well advised to avoid all contact with their insurers until they have discussed the matter thoroughly with an expert.