Most clients ask, “Can I switch doctors?” The answer is yes you can; but not unless you can prove it is in your best interest. And I don’t mean just to say it, you have to prove it to a deputy commissioner.
And so yes, an injured worker ‘can’ change doctors, but it is not easy to get the right information to be allowed to change doctors.
The Basic Facts: You are hurt at work. You properly filed the claim. The insurance adjuster picks the treating doctor. (Also, called the authorized treating physician and sometimes the company doctor.) You meet the doctor, don’t’ like his style, don’t feel like he cares about you and that you’re not being treated fairly or treated correctly. And now you want a new doctor. What should you do?
First let us look at the common reasons. And pay attention to what is missing.
- I don’t like the company doctor.
- He’s mean.
- Seems not to care about me.
- He’s said things that indicate he’s not objective, he’s biased in favor of the insurance company and never, and I mean NEVER, believes the injured patient.
He thinks, no matter what, that you’re a malingerer.
- a person who malingers.
"the doctor said my son was a malingerer"
- You start to think he is biased.
- His bedside manner sucks.
- He personally doesn’t like me.
- He’s a terrible person and he shows it every time he HAS to see me.
- You don't get along with the nursing staff!
Why do I need to see him?
So what can you do to get rid of the company doctor?
The answer is, it is complicated, and it is legally complicated to get this done. And, it won’t happen overnight or even next week. Yeah, I’ve had times when the adjuster will listen and allow the change, but more times than not, they won’t. It becomes a fight over power.
Now, I could go into a long-winded discussion about how to get this done, but you would not understand what I’m saying. And so, let’s keep it short and to the point.
- First, be realistic about how much you know about medicine.
- Second, get a second opinion from another doctor to see if he disagrees with the treatment of choice. And then speak with a lawyer, about whether or not you’re entitled to a different treater. (An objective opinion so to speak.)
- Third, after your appointments start taking notes.
- Fourth, keep those notes to yourself and share them only with your lawyer.
- Fifth, the adjuster is not your best friend, not even when they are being friendly. So, don’t’ go there having some heart-felt talk over coffee. Remember who pays them. (And it’s not you.)
- Sixth, getting sideways with the doctor never works. Yes, you may have him discharge you, but that usually backfires. Because either the insurance company claims you are being non-cooperative with the medical care and stops paying you weekly benefits. Or else, they send you to someone worse whose only goal is to release you without restrictions and no permanent impairment; regardless of your actual condition.
- Seventh, set up an appointment with the family doctor and ask for a second opinion, which you can then relate to your lawyer.
Write your problems down so that when you talk with the attorney you have concrete facts. If you don’t have an attorney, then you certainly need one and if we like your case, we can help. So call us and we will discuss our thoughts and how to proceed.
This is not easy, but it is possible.