How Much Say Do I Have in My Treatment?
Injured Maryland Workers Have a Right to Make Medical Decisions or Demand a Different Doctor
Workers’ compensation doctors are sometimes referred to as the “company doctor” because there is a preconceived, yet not totally unfounded, notion that the physician works for your employer and will use the cheapest methods available to get you back on your feet quickly and back on the job. While you too want to get back to work as quickly as possible, your primary goal is to receive the best treatment available so that your injuries or illnesses are cured to the best extent possible. Is a physician who was hired by your employer (though who does not directly work for your employer) really going to provide this type of expensive, and likely time consuming, service? The answer varies. Some treating physicians are very good, while others are not.
When you, as an injured worker, file for workers’ compensation and get sent to the doctor, you may be sent to a “treating physician,” not your primary care doctor with whom you have a relationship and have known for many years. This treating physician is paid by your employer’s insurance carrier, and is chosen by your employer, not you. While Maryland law states that you have the option to choose whichever doctor you want, this is not really true in practice. You will be treated, at least at first, by a doctor that you do not know and is paid, in a roundabout way, by your employer.
Injured Workers Are Choosing Other Medical Methods Over Opioids
You have a say in the prescriptions that you are given, which has recently been shown on a large scale in California worker injury claims. As reported by the Claims Journal, California is experiencing a rare decline in workers’ compensation prescriptions for opioid pain medications. According to Alex Swedlow, president of the California Workers’ Compensation Institute, the Institute is seeing a decline in opioid use due to “the concerted efforts by physicians, and payors, as well as injured workers, to be more educated and more cautious about prescribing and using opioids and the level of opioids that are prescribed for occupational injury.” This does go to show that if your physician wants you to take an opioid instead of actually fixing the root of the problem with physical therapy or surgery, you have a say. Your opinion does matter, and if your physician disagrees or performs low-quality services, you have other options.
Getting a Second Opinion or Independent Medical Evaluation
If you are not satisfied with the performance of your treating physician, or your treating physician has decided that your injury is not as severe as you know it is, you can get a second opinion from another doctor. However, this other physician is still being paid by your employer’s insurance carrier, and could still have bias. A third option if your employer is refusing to provide full treatment due to your treating physicians’ judgement is to use an independent medical evaluator, who is completely unbiased that you and your attorney can choose.
Call Maryland Workers Compensation Attorney Tara K. Frame Today
A ProPublica investigation found that treating physicians across the country have delayed surgeries or denied certain treatment when it was necessary. In other cases, employers have chosen new treating physicians when the original treating physician believes that the injury was real and significant. If you have questions about your rights to your medical decisions or have been denied workers’ compensation in Maryland, call Frame & Frame today. We are prepared to assist you immediately.