Western Occupational & Environmental Medical Association
Leading Occupational & Environmental Medicine

Welcome to the WOEMA WINDOW, our e-newsletter sent to members by email on a monthly basis. The newsletter links to this page. Below are the items that appeared in the August 2017 issue.


External Affairs Committee Update
by Sachin Kapoor, DO, MBA, MPH, FACOEM



Can a medical specialty organization improve the care of injured workers in California? WOEMA’s response: absolutely, yes!

WOEMA’s External Affairs Committee, comprised of current and past WOEMA leaders, in collaboration with key experts in the California Workers’ Compensation system is creating a formal, ongoing Workers’ Compensation educational program targeted at medical practitioners who provide care for injured workers in California. This program fills a large educational gap regarding the understanding and application of the CA Labor Code, Medical Treatment Utilization Schedule (MTUS), and evidence-based guidelines that have been adopted into regulation. By promoting a higher level of professional standards, training, and care among physicians caring for injured workers, this program will also serve to increased public confidence in the medical training of physicians treating work injuries.

While the content is in development at this time, learners can look forward to gaining a broader understanding of the structure and organization of the CA Workers’ Compensation System, critical concepts such as causation, compensability, and the return to work model in achieving maximal functional improvement, as well as navigating utilization review (UR) and independent medical review (IMR).

At the end of this program, the learner will receive a Certificate of Completion to demonstrate they have completed a specified level of education in this area. This 8hr program is being created with an explicit goal of making it easily accessible to learners with the majority of the content being web-based, and is targeted for release in 2018.

This exciting venture is a testament to the unwavering focus of WOEMA on its mission “to promote and protect the health of people at work and in their environment through preventive service, clinical care, research, and evaluation.”

As we are currently in the development phase, we welcome your thoughts and comments!


FREE CME: WOEMA Webinar Series
Tuesday, August 29 • 12:00 pm PDT


Knee Injuries: Pearls & Pitfalls

Presented by: Leslie Kim, MD

This presentation will highlight pertinent key points in evaluating and treating common–and some uncommon–knee conditions presenting to occupational medicine specialists. This will include identification of “red flags,” practical pointers on performing a knee examination, appropriate use of diagnostic studies, efficacy of certain treatment modalities, and timing of referral for orthopaedic consultation. Participants should be able to apply this information to more effectively and efficiently manage knee injuries in their practice.

Learning Objectives – After this webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Recall key questions when obtaining the patient’s history of knee injury
  • Describe the knee anatomy and clinical correlation to the physical examination
  • Appropriately use diagnostic testing and treatment modalities for different knee conditions
  • Identify urgent knee conditions that require timely referral


Dr. Leslie Kim is a board certified orthopaedic surgeon in active general practice with sub-specialization in shoulder and knee arthroscopy. His special interests include sports medicine, workers’ compensation, forensic (medico-legal) orthopaedics, and health care innovation. Dr. Kim is a graduate of Stanford Medical School. He completed general surgery internship and orthopaedic surgery residency at UCLA. He also received post-graduate fellowship training in arthroscopic surgery, orthopaedic trauma in Munich Germany, and reconstructive surgery at Scripps Clinic. Following Dr. Kim’s formal training, he gained additional experience working at the Olympics and serving as a local college team physician, as well as expertise in the workers’ compensation system as medical director of a large statewide medical group. Dr. Kim is presently the chair of the orthopaedic surgery department at Mills-Peninsula Hospital in Burlingame, and on staff at Seton Medical Center.

Western Occupational Health Conference 2017
September 13-16, 2017 // Maui, HI



A Message from WOHC 2017 Conference Chair, Bernyce Peplowski, DO, MPH, FACOEM

Hawaii is defined by its gracious yet highly accomplished people. WOEMA voyagers – welcome home and kama’aina, welcome to our Western Occupational Medicine ohana. We are united by the ocean waters and stars as were our Polynesian ancestors. We share values, kuleana (responsibility), and heart. We are one. Our conference has been designed, down to the smallest detail, to be a rejuvenation of mind and spirit for everyone in our village: attendees, faculty, commercial friends, and guests. We paddle as one, and for each other.  Our goal is to generate many smiles which will linger far beyond our conference. Do you know the value of just one smile? Remind me to share the research at WOHC!

Warmest aloha and Malama Pono,

Dr. Bernyce Peplowski


Dine Arounds – New this Year!

We’re pleased to announce a brand new social event at WOHC this year! Join us for one of three Dine Around dinners happening at or around the Wailea Marriott on Wednesday, September 13th from 6:30 – 9:00.

Enjoy a three-course dinner and meet some of your fellow conference attendees while sampling some of the local cuisine.

Choose from one of three restaurants:

  • Tommy Bahama
  • Humble Market and Kitchin
  • The Pint & Cork

Learn More & Buy Tickets


Post-Graduate Sessions

It’s not too late to register for any of the PG sessions and earn extra CME/MOC credit!

AMA Disability Text: Real World Examples & Case Discussions of Disability, Impairment, & Return to Work (PG-1) – Earn 4 CME/MOC Credits
Stephen Frangos, MD; Mark Hyman, MD; Steve Wiesner, MD
Many sources provide mixed messages to injured workers as to what is best for them. Do you know the spectrum of problems one might create as a clinician when we place patients off work? Do you know how to objectively assess cognitive impairment in safety sensitive jobs? Learn this along with the principles and practical pearls in “AMA Guides to Evaluation of a Work Ability and RTW”. Lock in the learning by group discussion of case presentations. Participants will also be provided with tools for managing difficult conversations. 

Power Ortho – Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Orthopedics but Were Afraid to Ask (PG-2) – Earn 4 CME/MOC Credits
Christopher Bayne, MD; James Van den Bogaerde, MD; Brandee Waite, MD
Rub elbows with a joint surgeon, know your knee, and get a handle on your hand exam. Get up-to-date, and up close and personal with the pros as they demonstrate physical exam techniques and provide multi-diagnostic and treatment pearls ranging from ortho injections, advanced imaging, management of degenerative joint disease in a WC setting, and the latest evidence and low-down on some of the newer regenerative sports med treatments. All presented in a fun interactive fashion, by mechanism of injury. Plus – red flags and what not to miss.

How to Excel as an Independent Medical Evaluator: Secrets to Success (PG-3) – Earn 3 CME/MOC Credits
Chris Brigham, MD; Lorne Direnfeld, MD; Steve Feinberg, MD
Learn “secrets” and best practices for having a successful and independent medical evaluation (IME) practice – whether this is part of your existing practice or your new focus. If you perform IMEs or are considering doing this work, you will want to actively participate in this outstanding workshop – you have so much to gain. All of your questions will be answered.

Post-Graduate Session Fees (per session):
WOEMA/ACOEM Member – $200
Non-Member Physician – $250
RN/PA/Other Health Professional – $150
Retired WOEMA/ACOEM Member – $100
Residents/Students – $100



WOEMA Member Spotlight
Alejandro Katz, OMD, L.Ac


Dr. Alejandro Katz is a seven-year WOEMA member, who has a unique practice in the Occupational Medicine field. He received his medical training in his home Argentina, graduating from medical school in 1976. After completing specialty training in Orthopaedic Surgery he then went on to practice in the field of Pain Management.

In pursuit of helping his patients to resolve their issues with chronic pain, he became a licensed Acupuncturist and found that to be the modality that offered excellent results for his patients. While the use of acupuncture was not common in allopathic medicine when he started his practice, he feels that it has come to be well accepted within the medical community.

Since coming to the United States in 1982 he has focused his clinical practice exclusively on acupuncture, with impressive results. Dr. Katz has worked with Kaiser Permanente and is the director of his own pain management center in Tarzana, CA. His practice employs Chiropractors and Acupuncturists who focus on treating mostly patients with workplace injuries.

Dr. Katz is an engaged member of the OEM family. He serves as a member of WOEMA’s membership committee and is active with ACOEM as well. He has served in many capacities as clinical faculty, specialty advisor, writer, and radio program host.

Dr. Katz has a passion for promoting the integration of acupuncture into the practice of occupational medicine. He would like clinicians to know that he is available for consultation and to answer any questions his colleagues have about how to use acupuncture in their patient management.

Find out more about using acupuncture in occupational medicine by visiting Dr. Katz’s website.


Putting Media Reports into Practice



A recent AP press release trumpets that older workers are dying at higher rates than the rest of the work force. The actual Bureau of Labor Statistics report tells a different story. The AP press release does not let the reader know that the rate of fatalities by age had the greatest decrease in the over 65 group and largest increase in the 20-24 age group.

Read More Here 


Legislative Affairs Committee Update



July 14, 2017

  • AB 44 (Reyes)– Committee is still in a discussion whether we would support the bill, with amendments added where injured workers from a workplace terrorist attack would be provided immediate advocate services.  Committee agreed to wait to make a decision to support/oppose until more clarification would be made regarding what bill is proposing about UR exemptions.
  • AB 570 (Gonzalez Fletcher)-WOEMA opposes, was heard at Senate Labor on 7/12.
  • SB 617 (Bradford) – WOEMA supports the bill.  However, some members raised a concern regarding the possible publication of physician names on the annual report cards and the effect it may have.  The bill was heard on 7/12 in Assembly Insurance.  Author appreciated WOEMA’s involvement and amendments given were much appreciated.  Author would like to hear further what WOEMA has to say and will discuss further in the future.  WOEMA will continue to follow the progress of the bill.  In addition, further discussion needs to be held regarding the proposed alternative WC payment models.

July 18, 2017

  • Drug Formulary – The Legislative Affairs Committee discussed the proposed recommendation of the drug formulary and drafted a letter of recommendation focusing on the changes made to the last version.  The letter would be reviewed by Dr. Bob Blink and Don Schinske for revision.  Deadline for the letter is August 2nd.
  • AB 44 (Reyes) – The Committee is in discussions and in preparation of a letter of suggestion which will be reviewed by the Legislative committee prior to submission.  The goal is to improve UR process for cases involving domestic terrorist attacks.
  • Poultry Workers –Oxfam America raised the concern of USDA proposing to increase the poultry processing line speed to 175 bpm, which translates to 3 birds/sec.  The increased speed of processing poultry may result in higher risk of injury of these workers.  Dr. Robert Harrison reached out to WOEMA for support opposing this change.  WOEMA Legislative Committee will look at the scientific findings and will discuss further with Dr. Robert Harrison.

July 24, 2017

  • DWC Revised Drug Formulary Regulation has been proposed and is open for 15 days commentary period which ends in August 2nd, 2017.  WOEMA will submit a letter of suggestion once reviewed and approved by the WOEMA executive committee. 
  • Click Here to read WOEMA’s submitted Drug Formulary commentary

Click Here to read WOEMA’s Policy Platform

The Legislative Affairs Committee is Co-Chaired by Dr. Rupali Das & Dr. Roman Kownacki, with Don Schinske as Policy Advisor. For questions or to get information about the WOEMA Legislative Affairs Committee, contact woema@woema.org 

Mental Health in the Workplace Symposium

UCLA & UC Irvine Southern California Education and Research Center is hosting a symposium on Mental Health in the Workplace on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 from 8:00 am – 5:15 pm

According to a recent study*, 22.5% of adults 18 or older have one or more mental disorders.  The vast majority of that group, 20.3% of the population, are employed full time.  That’s 23,737,000 people!

It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway — a person at work with a mental disorder can be a cause for concern.  Depression, anxiety and substance abuse all have the potential of resulting in interpersonal conflict, workplace violence, reduced productivity, lost work time and many other problems.

This symposium will explore:

  • The scope of the problem and its impact
  • Increasing productivity and decreasing absenteeism
  • Promoting successful Return to Work and Stay at Work practices including psychotherapy and psychopharmacology
  • Substance abuse and the impact of new marijuana laws on the workplace