Authorized treating physician is a legal term for your primary doctor in a Georgia workers compensation case. Your authorized treating physician has special privileges in your case that other doctors do not. These privileges affect the workers compensation benefits you receive.
Clearly, you need doctors to get good medical treatment. Understanding the privileges and powers that an authorized treating physician has will help you get that treatment. Also, you can make sure you receive the other workers compensation benefits you should.
What privileges does my authorized treating physician have?
Georgia workers compensation law gives this doctor privileges in just about every area of your case.
Medical treatment privileges
Your authorized treating physician has two primary medical treatment privileges
- The power to provide medical treatment and testing
- The power to refer to other medical specialists
Any “authorized physician” can provide treatment for your work injury. But, only the authorized treating can refer you to other specialists for treatment.
Why does this matter so much? The authorized treating physician cannot always provide the care you need. Suppose you have a torn rotator cuff and need shoulder surgery. If your authorized treating physician is not a shoulder surgeon, he or she can refer you to a shoulder surgeon and the insurance company has to pay for it.
If the authorized treating physician could not refer to specialists, you would have to get agreement for a specialist or get a judge to order one. The power of a referral provides the medical treatment much more quickly.
Work status privileges
Often, your work injury limits what you can do. These limitations usually affect your ability to work. After an injury, you should expect that your doctors will have opinions about what you should and should not do at work.
Fortunately, Georgia law gives your authorized treating physician some power over your work status. If your employer tries to offer you an unsuitable job, your authorized treating physician can refuse to approve it.
Of course, this power over work status extends the other way as well. If your authorized treating physician releases you to return to regular duty work without restrictions, the insurance company will probably suspend your benefits. So, make sure you have a fair authorized treating physician.
Permanent partial disability benefit privileges
Georgia law requires the insurance company to request a permanent partial disability (PPD) rating from the authorized treating physician in certain situations. However, the PPD rating provided by the authorize treating physician does not bind the insurance company or you. You can always get an opinion from a different doctor about a PPD rating if your believe the rating is too low.
Who picks my authorized treating physician?
Under Georgia law, your authorized treating physician has many privileges that affect your workers compensation case. Because of that, you need a good doctor in that role. How can you go about making sure you have a good doctor.
You have the right to pick your authorized treating physician. Sometimes, you can pick any doctor you want. Most of the time, you have to pick off the panel of physicians posted by your employer. To learn more about your right to select a doctor, please read this article I wrote.
Can my authorized treating physician change?
Yes. You can change your authorized treating physician. But, the insurance company may change him or her as well.
Sometimes, you have the right to change doctors. At other times, you may have to agree with the insurance company to change.
In some situations, you may need to get a judge to order a change of physicians. This could require filing a motion or going to court. For a more detailed explanation of how you can change doctors, take a look at this article.