The selection of a medical provider by an injured worker is the most important decision he or she will make during the course of his or her claim. Unlike many states, Massachusetts allows the injured worker to choose who will provide the care needed to restore their good health after an injury on the job.
This right, however, is not without some limitations. Initially, an injured employee can be required to be treated at a facility designated by his or her employer as a preferred provider. It is important to understand that this requirement is limited only to the first visit for medical care; after that visit, injured workers are free to seek treat with whomever they choose.
The best place to turn after the initial visit at the emergency room or the preferred provider is your primary care or family physician. These doctors are the most likely to know one’s medical history, and to be free of any influence by a workers’ compensation insurer. It is essential that the doctor receive an accurate medical history which includes a description of the accident on the job.
If appropriate, a referral to a specialist to address the work related injury is the next step on the road to recovery. Be sure that your family doctor understands that you are not limited to specialists within your health insurance network, and that you can be referred to whomever he or she believes is best choice to treat your injury. If you do not have a family doctor, ask the emergency room staff to provide you with the names of doctors who treat the type of injury you suffered.
The Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act allows a person to change doctors within a specialty once without the consent of the workers’ compensation insurer. If you are unhappy with a specialist, ask your doctor for a referral for a second opinion. If the second doctor is one with whom you develop a good relationship, then you can consider changing. Be certain, however, that the second doctor is the one whom you want to treat you, as you cannot change to a third doctor within that specialty without the permission of either the insurer or your employer.
If you are uncertain about any of these steps contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to assist in this process. A lawyer who deals with work related injury can provide you with insight into the issues associated with this important decision and should be able to provide assistance if the insurer refuses to honor its legal obligations to you.
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