Dealing with Panel Doctors
Many employers set up so-called panels of medical providers to treat injured workers for work related injuries. Under the new Pennsylvania Worker’s Compensation act if an employer sets up a list of at least six healthcare providers the injured worker has to treat with a provider on that list for the first 90 days of treatment. If the worker treats with someone not on the list, it would be at his/her expense. The 90 days begins to run with the first day of treatment and ends on the 90th calendar day from that point.
Many employers attempt to direct the injured worker to a specific medical provider. This can be an occupational medicine doctor that the employer sends everyone to or it could be the occupational medicine Department of local hospital. Needless to say, these referrals are very important to the physician or facility to which the injured worker is being steered. The injured worker has every right to question exactly where the loyalty of such providers actually lies. Every injured worker has the right to pick any doctor on the list with whom to treat, regardless of the preferences of the employer. Of course, if the injured worker has a back problem he cannot treat with the eye doctor on the list. So long as the physician treats the kind of problem the injured worker has, the worker can choose to see that physician. Workers should firmly but politely exercise their right to see the doctor on their list of their choosing. When in doubt about what one is able to do, injured workers should always consult a knowledgeable workers compensation attorney.
Sometimes during the 90 day surgery is recommended by one of the panel doctors. The best approach to dealing with this situation would be to wait until after the 90 days has expired, so that the injured worker can see a surgeon of his or her own choosing. The Worker’s Compensation act clearly provides that a workers compensation claimant can see any physician here she chooses after the 90 days. Our firm often recommends to our clients that he or she make an appointment with their own physician for the 91st day so as to begin the process as soon as possible.
Our Worker’s Compensation attorneys often see appointments made for injured workers near the end of the 90 day. We see panel doctors frequently releasing injured workers to full duty and/or certifying full recovery as the workers approach the 90 day deadline. The safer course for injured workers who already have an appointment scheduled after the 90th day is to avoid an examination with the panel doctor close to the 90 day deadline.
If you, the reader, is looking for a workers compensation attorney in Pennsylvania, please feel free to call us. You will receive a no charge and no obligation consultation.