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Getting Orthopedic Treatment after a Workers Compensation Injury

If you are reading this, you probably find yourself in an unwanted situation.  You have suffered a serious injury at work.  Now, you need to get medical treatment so you can recover from that injury.

Georgia’s workers compensation law has rules about what the workers compensation insurance company must pay on your behalf.  Today, I am going to focus on one specific part of what they must pay – medical treatment.

Shoulder orthopedic doctor with patientWhat is an orthopedic doctor?

Many of us have a family doctor (often known as a general practitioner or primary care physician).  He or she treats us for all sorts of different medical conditions.

But, many doctors specialize in a particular area of medicine just like I specialize in particular areas of the law.  Orthopedics is a specialized area of medicine.  It focuses on the musculoskeletal system.

Doctors who specialize in this area are known as orthopedists or orthopedic surgeons.  They primarily treat injuries and conditions which affect muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments.

Are there different types of orthopedic doctors?

Yes.  There are general orthopedic doctors who will treat any orthopedic condition.  But, most orthopedic doctors specialize even more.

For example. some orthopedic doctors focus on treating medical conditions affecting the arms and legs.  Other orthopedic doctors will focus on spinal injuries.

Sometimes, doctors will specialize even further than that.  Some doctors will only treat hand injuries.  Other doctors only treat foot injuries.

Does the workers compensation insurance company have to pay for me to see an orthopedic doctor?

Many people who suffer workers compensation injuries need orthopedic treatment.  If you suffer an injury to your back or your neck, you probably need to see an orthopedic doctor.  The same thing applies if you have a shoulder or knee injury.

Most workers compensation injuries affect the musculoskeletal system of the body.  Because of that, Georgia workers compensation law requires that an employer include at least one orthopedic doctor on the posted panel of physicians.

Do I have to go to the orthopedic doctor on the panel of physicians?

Not necessarily.  If your employer followed the rules and posted the list of doctors correctly, then you may have to pick a doctor off that list.  But, you do not necessarily have to pick the orthopedic doctor.

Sometimes, the orthopedic doctor on the panel of physicians does not even treat your condition.  That orthopedic doctor might specialize in shoulder injuries and will not treat a back injury or a foot injury.

You pick a doctor off the panel of physicians to serve as your authorized treating physician.  That authorized treating physician can refer you to another doctor for specialized care that you need.  So, a primary care physician that you picked off the panel of physicians could refer you to an orthopedic doctor for treatment if you needed it.

What treatment will the orthopedic doctor provide?

This will depend on your injury.  Some of the common treatment and testing provided by orthopedic doctors includes:

  • Medications
  • Injections
  • Physical therapy
  • Diagnostic imaging including x-rays, MRIs, and other tests
  • Surgery

Under Georgia’s workers compensation law, the insurance company is responsible for paying for the reasonable and necessary treatment that you need because of your injury.  But, you need to understand that there are limits on your medical treatment including the 2013 change in the law that limited medical treatment to 400 weeks in most cases.

Doctor with arms crossedCan I change my orthopedic doctor?

Sometimes, people get unhappy with their doctors.  If the doctor does not have anything to offer to get you better, you could need to change your doctor.

Georgia’s workers compensation law provides a few different ways to change your doctor, but you must follows the rules.  One way is to select a different doctor off the panel of physicians.  Another way is to agree with the insurance company.

This article I wrote discusses the different ways to change doctors in a Georgia workers compensation case.  If you are considering changing your doctor, I would recommend that you read it to learn more about your options.

What if I want more information about how to get the medical treatment I need?

You can find a number of articles about how to get the medical treatment you need in the medical treatment rights section of our PerkinsLawTalk Blog.  Also, I would suggest a free consultation if you have some specific question or want to get information about your case.

What if I have other questions about workers compensation?

Georgia’s workers compensation system can be very confusing.  You have to worry about getting the treatment you need and paying your bills while also worrying about not missing any deadlines that could cause you to lose your right to receive workers compensation benefits.

If you have questions, I would recommend that you try to get answers.  To find out more about how to schedule a time to talk to me about your workers compensation questions, just read this short article.

Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers.  He regularly publishes videos and write blog articles about Georgia’s workers compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families. To be notified of Jason’s new workers compensation videos, subscribe to his Georgia Workers Compensation Video Series channel on YouTube by clicking the subscribe button below.

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Jason Perkins

Workers' Compensation Attorney

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