Group photo

How should you handle your first visit to the Workers' Compensation doctor. (Part Two)

Workers' Compensation

This is Part Two of an important topic. Please review the prior article and the earlier ones on securing medical care in a workers' compensation case. You really need to know and understand the inherent bias in the system. If the employer or the insurance adjuster sends you to a clinic doctor you have to go. Unfortunately, you do not have the legal right to just go to your own doctor. You can't use your health insurance because they exclude workers' compensation cases and unless you can afford to pay the doctor in cash you are stuck with the workers' compensation doctor so you might as well make the most of it.

The workers' compensation doctors, by the way, are overworked, underpaid (yes, doctors can be underpaid!), and swamped with a difficult bureaucracy. They have to answer to the insurance adjusters (the insurance industry) and try to get you back to work as soon as possible. Now, most people really do want to get back to work, but these doctors are encouraged to return you to work even if you're not quite ready. The best way to handle their "institutional bias" is to be candid, up front, and complete in your discussions with them of your symptoms. You need to know how best to handle the situation.

Write down each and every symptom or injury you have before you see the doctor and give it to them as a part of your medical record. Now, if you can't write things down because your co-worker is rushing you to a clinic or you are in an ambulance, then write these symptoms down for your next appointment. Sign and date the list. Make copies. Keep a few copies for other doctors and one for yourself. Over the four decades that we have represented injured workers in Florida a frequent problem occurs where the employer only reports one injury (the most obvious usually) and the insurance company only authorizes that one part of your case.

Then the authorization sent to the doctor mentions only the one injury and the doctor often will not treat the other injuries. Sometimes the doctor will not even document the record by mentioning the other injuries. You need to be proactive here and you should consult with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer. The great majority of lawyers do not practice workers' compensation and so you should find someone who doesn't just dabble in the field. Consult someone who deals with these types of issues every day! And remember, when you see the workers' compensation doctor, if they are not treating you with dignity and respect as well as actually treating all of your injuries, you need an attorney immediately! Your health depends on it.