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Can you choose your own doctor after a workplace injury?

Whether you suffered a herniated disk in your back due to heavy lifting, you were injured in a work-related auto accident or you were exposed to toxic chemicals on the job, you likely have the same questions: Where can you turn for the medical help you need? Can you go to the family physician that has been treating you for the past 10 years, or do you need to find a new health care provider? And will workers' compensation pay for your medical care?

The answers to these questions depend primarily on whether you have a workers' compensation claim or not. If the accident or illness is directly related to your job, it's likely that workers' compensation insurance will cover your medical treatment and related costs. However, you can't visit just any doctor. You have to choose someone off the list of designated providers that your employer has posted. In addition, you must continue seeing someone on that list for at least the first 90 days.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry further explains the rules regarding this list of approved physicians and care providers. Here are a few things that your employer must do:

  • List at least six approved care providers, at least three of which are physicians
  • Provide the name, address, phone number and medical specialty of each provider on the list
  • Allow you to switch from one approved care provider to another as necessary
  • Choose care providers who are within an accessible geographic radius
  • Choose care providers who specialize in issues likely to arise in your particular line of work

Your employer is not allowed to tell you to see any one specific doctor. You can choose anyone you want, as long as he or she is on the list.

Plus, if you need specialized care for your injury, and someone with that particular specialty is not on your employer's list, you have the right to obtain care elsewhere. For instance, if you suffered a work-related brain injury and require the services of a neurologist, yet no neurologist is on your employer's list, you can seek treatment from any neurologist you choose and workers' compensation should cover it.

If any disputes over medical care and workers' compensation coverage should arise, don't hesitate to contact a Pennsylvania attorney skilled in this area of practice. He or she can advise you of all your rights under the law and fight for the medical care you need.

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