If You Have a Workers’ Comp Injury, Can You Choose Your Own Doctor?

Some states require that an injured worker be seen by a doctor chosen by the employer or the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier.

Depending on where you live, you may or may not have the ability to choose your own doctor for treatment after a work-related injury

In Pennsylvania, patients suffering from work-related injuries have some choices outlined in state law.

We can help you understand the circumstances that guide which physician will be handling your care.

Finding the best treatment provider, even if you are limited to a list of physicians, is important for your healing.

Patients should look for a healthcare professional who has experience treating your particular medical condition, knowledge of the workers’ compensation claim process, and the availability to accept new patients.

Injured patients should trust their doctor and feel comfortable discussing treatment options with him or her. 

According to Section 301(c)(1) of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, 77 P.S. §411(1), a “work injury” is an injury or condition caused by a person’s job.

While the Act does not list specific types of injuries, it does make clear that the injury must be directly related to your work, which may include the exacerbation of pre-existing conditions.

Most Pennsylvania employees are covered under the Act, including seasonal and part-time workers, even non-profit and unincorporated businesses employees. 

What Worker’s Comp Doctor Choices do I Have in Pennsylvania? 

According to the Pennsylvania Workman’s Comp Act, an employee has about three weeks to visit a company provided doctor.

The law requires that a minimum number of doctor choices be available to patients.

The list of healthcare providers must have no more than four coordinated care organizations and no fewer than three physicians. 

This list of physicians provided to the injured employee must include a clearly written notice to the employee of his or her rights and responsibilities.

Usually, this list of providers and explanation of rights is part of an employee’s hiring, or on-boarding, paperwork.  

Providers, as defined in the Act, are more than just physicians.

Employers can choose a collective of treatment professionals – like the Injury Care Center – or they can add those who specialize in chiropractic or occupational therapy alone. 

Importantly, if a particular specialty treatment is not on the employer-approved list of providers, and the specialty care is reasonable and necessary for the treatment of the work injury, then the employee is allowed to seek treatment with the provider their choice

For example, if specialty healthcare professionals – like chiropractors – are not a listed choice, then the employee can see a chiropractor of his or her choosing.

After your first appointment, you must continue treatment with an employer-provided doctor for at least 90 days.

After those 90 days, if you need additional medical care, then you can visit any doctor or healthcare professional you would like.

Pennsylvania does have an exception when it comes to selecting employer-provided physicians.

If the listed doctor recommends invasive surgery to correct your injury, then the patient may seek a second opinion from a healthcare provider of your choice.

However, any treatment recommended as a result of a second opinion must be provided by one of the six or more employer-listed care providers if it takes place within the initial 90-day window.

The Injury Care Center offers a variety of treatments for those injured on the job.

Specifically, our team of chiropractors and physical therapists are ready to help you get back to your life.

How Much Time do I Have to Visit a Designated Doctor? 

It is important to report the injury to your employer as soon as it happens or as soon as you are aware of it.

Sometimes employees are hesitant to report injuries to their employers out of fear of retaliation like loss of employment or a decrease in working hours.

A common injury that goes unreported due to these concerns is back pain that develops over time due to the repetitive nature of specific work.

Other unreported injuries are those that you believe may be relatively small initially, like stubbing your toe.

However, at times, small injuries can turn into larger issues, and if unreported from the onset, your workers’ compensation claim could be in jeopardy. 

Section 311 of the Workers’ Compensation law requires that notice of an injury be given within 21 days after it occurs, or at the latest, within 120 days of the injury.

It is important to tell your supervisor as soon as you are injured. 

If you need immediate medical attention for a serious injury that occurred at work, then you should go to the nearest emergency room.

In an emergency situation, where an injured worker cannot wait to visit a listed doctor, then treatment in an emergency room is covered under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.

However, once the emergency is abated, then the injured worker should elect an employer-provider caregiver to provide treatment for at least the next 90 days. 

Why is it Important to Select the Best Injury Doctor? 

Most importantly, selecting the best injury healthcare provider for you can get you back on your feet as soon as possible.

You injury care provider can help you accurately gauge pain levels and identify any loss of work abilities.

Maintaining complete medical records regarding your work-related injury can be helpful to you in the future, as well.

Any worker’s compensation benefits that you might become eligible for can depend on the professionalism in recordkeeping that your doctor’s office provides. 

The Injury Care Center specializes in individualized, patient-centered care and uses a variety of treatments to manage your pain and help you heal.

We offer many services for work-related injuries like physical therapy, chiropractic, massage, pain management, and diagnostics.

Our administrative team is top-notch, as well.

From offering flexible scheduling to providing free transportation, arranging access to quality health care is easy. 

If you have been injured at work, consult your employer-provided list of treatment providers and make plans to visit the Injury Care Center for all of your wellness needs.