Changing doctors without knowing all your rights is a common workers’ compensation mistake. Getting good medical treatment is important. The rules about changing doctors can be tricky.
You have rights under Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws that help you get good medical treatment. You need to understand those rights before changing doctors.
Do I need to know more before changing doctors?
Unfortunately, your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance company probably has not explained all those rights to you. Here are some questions that you should ask:
- Have you been shown a panel of physicians?
- Have you been told that you can pick a doctor off the panel?
- Have you been told that you can select a different doctor off the panel?
- Have you been told that you can choose whatever doctor you want if there is no panel or if the panel does not comply with the law?
- Have you been told that you have a right to a second opinion?
If the answer to any of these questions is “No”, then you have not been fully informed of your rights. Many injured workers are not fully informed. This lack of information causes them to make a big mistake. They do not get treatment with the best doctor.
Why does it matter which workers’ compensation doctor I pick?
You need a good doctor to get fair treatment in a workers’ compensation case. Your main workers’ compensation doctor is known as your authorized treating physician.
The authorized treating physician is your main workers’ compensation doctor. That doctor has a lot of power.
The authorized treating physician controls your medical treatment. The authorized treating physician determines your work restrictions and approves light duty jobs.
What if my employer told me to go to a certain doctor?
Many injured workers get sent to the immediate care or occupational clinic by their employer. They do not know that they can actually select a doctor off their employer’s panel of physicians. If they do not get the medical treatment they need, they want to change to another physician.
These injured workers have many options to make that change. But they do not usually understand these options.
They may talk to the adjuster about getting to another doctor. Often, they end up selecting a “company doctor” for their one time change of physician.
If this “company doctor” does not provide good treatment, they need to change doctors again. Since these injured workers have changed doctors already, the insurance company will almost always fight any additional doctor changes. This fight usually delays medical treatment for months if not years.
What should I do before changing doctors?
The best thing you can do is make sure to fully understand your medical rights before you make a decision about changing doctors. The best way to do that is to talk to a workers’ compensation attorney.
A good workers’ compensation attorney can make sure you fully understand your rights. The attorney can also provide guidance regarding which doctor will likely provide the best medical treatment.
We know this can be difficult. Our firm provides free consultations in workers’ compensation cases to help you out. Many people want to understand how the free consultation process will work and what they will learn. This article explains how a free consultation with one of our workers’ compensation attorneys works and how you can set one up. Take a look at it and then let us know if we can help.
Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers. He regularly blogs about Georgia’s workers’ compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families.
You can subscribe to his Georgia Workers Compensation channel on YouTube.