If you were injured on the job in Pennsylvania, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may need to visit a doctor. Under the Pennsylvania Workman’s Comp Act, employers do have a say in the health care providers injured employees can use. This can be intimidating and confusing, so it is important to understand what to expect from a list of the employer’s identified doctors or Panel doctors.
What is an Employer Identified Doctor or Panel Doctor?
The list of Panel doctors are physicians chosen by your employer who will evaluate and treat you for your work-related injury or illness. Employers in Pennsylvania must provide at least six medical provider options for injured employees, at least three of those being actual physicians. The list cannot contain more than four providers that are coordinated care organizations and each provider must be geographically accessible to the inured employee. It is important to note that the list of Panel Doctors are not appointed by the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Bureau but rather by the insurance company or self-insured employer.
This panel list of doctors of six providers must be posted at your job in a prominent and readily accessible area at the work site-such as informational bulletin boards. Additionally, you should have received and signed a notice upon being hired that you are required to seek treatment from one their six designated health care providers if injured at work. When you were injured, your employer would have asked you to sign the acknowledgement again.
Do I Have to See a Doctor on the Employers list of Panel Doctors?
Yes and no. Employers are required to do the following in order to have a say in your medical care after a work-related accident:
- Did not deny your workers’ compensation claim
- Post a list of at least six health care providers at your job as noted above
- Provide you with written notice of your obligation to choose a health care provider on their list
- Ask you to sign your acknowledgement of that list when you are hired
- Ask you to sign the acknowledgement again when you are injured
If your employer did all five things above, you’ll need to pick a health care provider from their list for your initial care. You are free to pick anyone on your employer’s list. Your employer is prohibited from requiring you to use a specific medical professional on their list. Also, your employer cannot prevent you from switching from one physician on the list to another if you choose to make this change.
Please note that you are required to meet with the doctor you choose from the list immediately after your injury and must treat with them for up to 90 days from the first appointment for a follow-up.
Are There Any Exceptions to This Rule?
Yes. You are free to choose your own health care provider to treat your work injury if your employer denies your workers compensation claim or doesn’t perform the other four actions we outlined above.
If an employer’s listed health care provider prescribes invasive surgery, you are entitled to a second opinion. The second opinion will be paid for by your employer/insurer; however, any treatment recommended by the second opinion must be provided by an employer listed provider for 90 days.
After 90 days from your initial meeting with a health care provider from your employer’s list, you are free to choose your own doctor.
Panel Doctors Are One Reason You Need a Legal Advocate for a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Pennsylvania
Visiting a provider on the list of Panel Doctors in Pennsylvania after being hurt at work can be intimidating and confusing—but it doesn't have to be! It is important for those filing workers' compensation claims in PA to understand their rights when it comes to seeing a Panel Doctor and what they should expect from their visit. Additionally, it is helpful to know the conditions that qualify for exceptions, so you do not seek treatment through your employer’s designated physicians when it is unnecessary or inappropriate. Recognized by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® "Best Law Firms" in 2023 for workers’ compensation law in the Pittsburgh metro area, we are prepared to help you get the best care possible.
It is critical that as soon as you feel symptoms of an injury that you report it to your employer promptly, the entire scope of your injury. You can read more on what to do and not do when you’re hurt at work here: Six Things Not to Do When You Get Hurt at Work.
We Fight for the Check You Deserve When You’re Hurt at Work
If you or a loved one was hurt at work, contact us. Mitch Dugan and his highly skilled and experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at Dugan & Associates will work vigorously to pursue fair and just compensation for loss of earnings, medical expenses, and damages. Consultations are free. If there is not a recovery of compensation, there is also no fee. Contact us today online or by telephone at 412-353-3572.