That’s a great question, and it’s one we encourage our clients to ask. The problem is that some workers’ comp doctors cave to pressure from employers to get people back on the job or to Managed Care Organizations (MCO) to cut costs.
This absolutely should not happen. Your workers’ comp doctor should only be concerned with your well-being. If this isn't the case, it may help to talk to an attorney.
The Physician’s Role in a Workers’ Comp Claim
While you can see any doctor—including your own—for your initial evaluation after a workplace injury, you must choose from a list of BWC-approved physicians after that. These doctors don't work for the BWC, but are approved by the BWC to handle workers’ comp claims.
Doctors who see workers’ comp patients are expected to provide the same medical care as they would to any other patients, such as:
- Recommending treatment, regardless of what the MCO or self-insured employer will voluntarily pay.
- Advising the patient of possible alternative diagnoses, treatment options, and associated risks.
- Evaluating all symptoms, even those that may seem unrelated to the workplace injury.
- Objectively assessing impairment or disability and the employee's readiness to return to work.
- Providing medically-appropriate restrictions when the worker returns to the job.
Potential Conflicts of Interest for Workers’ Comp Doctors
Along with helping the patient get better, the workers’ comp doctor may also be expected to make judgments about the cause of the individual’s injury and his readiness to return to work. This might create a conflict for some doctors when employers pressure them to support a claim denial or to release a patient to work before he's ready. Be especially careful when your employer refers you to a particular medical practice, in-house medical dispensary, or local "work health center" for treatment.
Again, your doctor’s primary job is to care for you, not to worry about your employer. If you feel like your care is compromised because your physician is trying to please your employer or MCO, it may be time to change doctors and talk to an attorney.
Monast Law Office Cares About Your Recovery
The BWC allows you to switch doctors, but you must submit a change form and can have only one physician of record at a time. If you go to a doctor who isn't BWC-certified, you must pay for this care yourself.
If you're having difficulty getting the treatment you need from your workers’ comp doctor, contact my office and talk to my team. To learn more about your right to workers’ compensation, request a free download of our book, The Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio.