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Hurt at work? What doctor should you treat with?

  • Dave Brown, Esquire
  • 01/04/2018

You have hurt yourself at work and have to decide which doctors to treat with for your injuries. Your employer is required under workers’ compensation law to post a list of six designated medical providers, also known as panel providers, for its employees to treat with for 90 days following a work injury. These usually include hospitals, occupational medicine facilities, and other physicians. If your employer does not provide a list of panel providers, you may treat with any doctors that you choose, and your employer must pay for the treatment.

However, your employer must adhere to some strict requirements in order to compel you to treat with panel providers for the first 90 days. Specifically, your employer must provide you with notification, in writing, that you have the duty to treat with these providers, and obtain written acknowledgement by you that you received the notification, at two times: (1) when you are hired by your employer; and (2) immediately after you are injured, or as soon thereafter as possible under the circumstances. If you are injured in a work-related motor vehicle accident and transported by ambulance to an emergency room for treatment, the notice and acknowledgement cannot realistically be obtained “immediately with the injury.” Your employer will then have a grace period. So if you are discharged from the hospital after one day, then the employer must promptly provide you with a written notice and have you sign an acknowledgement. If your employer does not follow these rules and provide you with these two separate notices and obtain two separate acknowledgements from you – and most employers do not – you are relieved of the obligation of treating with the panel providers for the first 90 days after your injury. Under these circumstances, you may treat with any doctors you want, and your employer is required to pay for your treatment.

It is important that you are aware that panel providers, especially occupational medicine facilities, may not be looking out for your best interests when treating you. Often, these facilities will send injured workers back to their jobs before they have sufficiently recovered or received adequate treatment. If you hire Pearson Koutcher to represent you in your workers’ compensation claim, without delay we will refer you to top-notch doctors who will prescribe medication, recommend necessary treatment, and order diagnostic studies that you need. The lawyer at Pearson Koutcher handling your case will also answer all of your questions about the workers’ compensation process and file a petition on your behalf if your employer denies the claim.

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