FAQs - Medical Care
What if I haven't pre-designated a treating physician?
Do I have to go to my employer's doctor?
Can I choose a chiropractor as my treating physician?
What if I disagree with my treating doctor's findings?
What does it mean to be "Permanent and Stationary?"
At the San Mateo, California law firm DuRard, McKenna & Borg, we are dedicated to helping injured workers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area navigate the confusing workers' compensation process. Below, please find answers to some of the questions we most commonly receive about medical care for injured workers. If you have any further questions or would like to discuss your case with an experienced attorney, contact us for a free initial consultation.
Q: What if I haven't pre-designated a treating physician?
A: If you did not pre-designate a treating physician, do not panic. Under some circumstances, your employer may have established a medical provider network (MPN) or health care organization (HCO) and, if you have not pre-designated your treating doctor, you may be required to be treated by a physician within this network. These are new areas of workers' compensation law and place certain limitations on your right to control your own medical care. For more information on pre-designating your physician and how an MPN can affect your rights, please see our page regarding medical expenses benefits. If your employer has participated in such an arrangement, we recommend that you discuss the details of your situation with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer.
Q: Do I have to go to my employer's doctor?
A: If you have not pre-designated a treating doctor, and your employer has told you to see their doctor, you must do so. Typically, you would have the right to change doctors within the employer's network if you are unhappy with the employer's choice of doctor. At that time, you can choose a doctor from within the MPN and notify the insurance carrier of your choice.
If your employer has a properly established and maintained HCO, you may be required to continue treating with that HCO for longer than 30 days. This is a new area of workers' compensation law. If you have been told that your employer has an HCO, contact an experienced workers' compensation lawyer to discuss your particular situation and how you may obtain treatment for your injury.
Q: Can I choose a chiropractor as my treating physician?
A: Yes, you can. However, the use of chiropractors sometimes presents problems within the workers' compensation system. The Labor Code limits the number of chiropractic treatments you can receive for each injury; therefore, the treatment a chiropractor can provide is limited. While a chiropractor can refer you to various other specialists, you may want to consider choosing one of those specialists as the primary treating physician instead.
If you do decide to choose a chiropractor, carefully consider his or her reputation. Discontinue treatment if it is not helpful or if you feel worse. Additionally, some types of chiropractic treatment are contraindicated with some types of spine injuries that are better treated by a medical doctor. Therefore, it may be in your best interest to obtain a second opinion.
Q: What if I disagree with my treating doctor's findings?
A: Voice your objections immediately and inform your doctor of any errors or inaccuracies which exist in his or her reports. If that does not cause the doctor to change his or her conclusions, put your objections in writing to the insurance carrier with a copy to the doctor. Also, immediately tell us about your disagreement, so that we can make an appropriate objection. Often, the treating doctor's opinion will be the only available medical opinion on your condition, so it is important to address these concerns as soon as possible.
You might also consider changing doctors, especially if you feel your doctor is not listening to you, or if your doctor is more concerned about your employer than you. Usually, after the first thirty days, you are entitled to change doctors. If possible, you should choose a doctor who has treated friends or family with good results, but if you have trouble finding a doctor on your own, we can help. If your employer has participated in an MPN or HCO, contact us to discuss your particular circumstances.
Q: What does it mean to be "Permanent and Stationary?"
A: Your condition is "permanent and stationary" (P&S) when you have received all of the available treatment that is likely to improve your condition and your symptoms have reached a plateau. In other words, you are neither any better nor getting any worse. At this point, your disability is no longer considered temporary. It is now time to determine the nature and extent of any permanent disability your work-related injury might have caused.
If you have been unable to work because of your temporary disability status, your doctor must now determine whether you will be able to return to your usual job in light of any permanent restrictions you might have.