Mar 2016

What Injured Providence Workers Need to Know About Choosing Doctors

You have rights under Rhode Island law. We can help protect them.

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorneyIf you’ve been hurt at work, the first thing on your mind should be getting the medical attention you need to recover. That means you’ll need to choose a healthcare provider as soon as possible. The choice of a doctor is critical because of the risk that an employer-designated doctor may downplay your diagnosis, affecting both your recovery and your workers’ compensation claim.

Under Rhode Island law, your choice of first medical provider is up to you. You can go to see your own doctor, or any other doctor you choose, without getting approval from your employer or their insurance carrier. The first doctor you see can also refer you to a specialist, if necessary, without getting prior approval from the insurer. Just make sure you tell the doctor who sees you that your injury was work-related.

Remember that immediately after an accident, you can (and should) be seen at an emergency room or checked out by a company physician. The doctor who provides this emergency care does not count as your first medical provider for the purposes of choosing your doctor.

Regardless of whom you chose, you are entitled to receive a report from the doctor who treats you within 10 days of each visit.

Employer’s preferred provider network comes into play only if you change physicians

If, after beginning your medical treatment for a workplace injury, you decide to change doctors, your employer or its insurance company can provide you with a pre-approved list of physicians, known as a “preferred provider network.” You’ll either need to choose a doctor from this list or get prior approval for a different doctor from your employer.

Remember, however, that your employer can only require you to choose a pre-approved doctor if they have an approved list. If they do not have an approved list, there are no restrictions on your choice of doctor.

Rhode Island law puts a great deal of power in the hands of the injured worker. However, your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance company may try to pressure you into a decision that benefits them, not you. It’s important to know your legal rights, and if your employer attempts to control your choice of doctor, you need someone on your side to stand up for those rights. An experienced Rhode Island attorney from the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can advocate for you and help you make the best decisions for your health and your workers compensation claim.

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