After suffering serious injuries in a fall on the worksite, emergency responders rush the injured worker to receive immediate medical attention. Once the injured worker is stable, and perhaps even able to return home, then they have to begin preparing for long-term recovery.
During this recovery, most people would prefer to seek continuing medical care from a doctor they know and trust. The medical benefits they receive will cover this treatment, but many workers worry that their employer will be choosing the doctor they see.
Myth or fact: Employers choose your doctor
It is true that an employer, their insurer and even the Workers’ Compensation Commission can require an injured worker to see a physician of their choice if they order an independent medical evaluation (Maryland Code, Labor & Employment §9-720).
However, workers do not have to continue seeing the physician of their employer’s choice when they seek medical care and a treatment plan to help them heal from their work injury. Workers and their families often wish to seek medical care from a physician they already know they can rely on to protect their own best interests, whether it is one they know or one they vet for specialized treatment. In Maryland, injured workers have the right to choose any treating medical physician, so long as the doctor accepts the Maryland Worker’s Compensation Fee Guide for their billing.
Workers could still face challenges
Employees who suffer injuries on the job generally reserve the ability to choose who provides their long-term medical care. Even so, the process of that decision might not always be easy for workers. They could face some obstacles in selecting their doctor, including:
- Their employer might provide a list of “preapproved” physicians
- The employer’s insurance company might not authorize the worker’s choice
- Even the doctor might disagree and worry about the workers’ compensation fee schedule
These issues can complicate the process of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits, but they do not have to hold it up. Injured workers should consult a workers’ compensation attorney if they face any of these hurdles to secure the benefits and medical care they need. While an attorney can not provide medical advice, an experienced attorney will be familiar with physicians that are often partial to Employer/Insurer interests, or providers that understand the pitfalls of the system and will provide medical without pre-approval by an insurance company.