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What Are the Workers Compensation Doctor Rules?

Many people refer to the doctors who provide medical treatment for work injuries as workers compensation doctors.  Some people use the term “company doctors”.

Georgia law gives injured workers the right to pick their doctor off the employer’s panel of physicians.  But, many injured workers get sent directly to a company doctor without getting offered a selection off the panel of physicians.

You may have questions about whether the workers compensation company doctor will give treat you fairly.  Getting the treatment you need to recover properly from your injury is important.  This article will provide you with some information on Georgia’s workers compensation doctor rules.

Male doctor writing a prescription or an order for a test or a referralDoes the Workers Compensation Doctor Actually Work For My Employer?

Probably not. Your employer selects the doctors who will go on their list of doctors (otherwise known as the “panel of physicians”). However, that does not mean the doctors actually work for your employer.

Your employer should have a posted panel of physicians (unless your employer uses a WC/MCO). This panel should have at least six doctors on it. If your employer sent you to a doctor, the doctor that your employer sent you to is probably one of the doctors on the panel.

Many employers use the panel of physicians to their advantage. Your employer may pick doctors who they think will favor them.  This can prevent you from getting the medical treatment you need and the wage loss benefits you should receive if you have to miss work as a result of your injury.

Will the Workers Compensation Doctor Treat Me Fairly?

It depends. Some employers put good and fair doctors on the panel of physicians. Some employers do not. If your employer is picking the doctors on the panel of physicians, they may pick doctors who will make it difficult to get the treatment you need.

You want to get better.  To get better, you need to treat with a skilled doctor. You also need a doctor who is fair.

How can you get to a good doctor? You need to understand your right to choose your doctor.

Your main workers compensation doctor (also known as your “authorized treating physician”) has a lot of power in your case

  • This doctor’s opinion about your ability to work could let the insurance company stop your benefits.
  • This doctor’s opinion about what medical treatment is necessary will definitely affect what treatment you receive and how well you recover from your injury.

Make sure you have a good, fair doctor.

Male doctor talking to female patientHow Can I Pick My Own Doctor?

Georgia law requires your employer to post a panel of physicians.  Make sure you get a copy or a picture of the panel of physicians. It should look like the document below (although it will probably be pink instead of white):

Panel of physicians

As you will notice, the bottom half of the panel has spaces for at least six doctors.  You need to get a copy or picture of your employer’s panel of physicians so you will have that information saved later if you need it.

Your employer has to follow certain rules when posting the panel of physicians.  If your employer follows these rules, you will be able to pick one of the six (or more) doctors listed on the panel.  If your employer does not follow those rules, you will probably be able to pick any doctor you want.  You can learn more about the rules for selecting and changing doctors in this article which discusses that process in more detail.

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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