If you would prefer medical treatment by a physician with whom you already have a doctor-patient relationship, you cannot wait to establish this after you suffer a work-related injury. The California workers’ compensation system mandates that only workers who have a predesignated doctor in place can see the doctor of their choice. The best time to arrange this is soon after you start a new job because workplace injuries can occur even on your first day at work.
Predesignating your doctor is more than telling your boss the name of your doctor. There are specific steps to take to name the doctor you want to treat you.
Who cannot predesignate?
To be eligible to choose your own physician, you must have general medical insurance coverage for non-work-related medical conditions. If not, your employer’s choice of doctor will treat you.
Procedures to predesignate
You must inform your employer of your choice of physician in writing. You can do this by filling out official forms or writing your own statement. The information required is the name of the person who employs you and your statement to indicate your predesignated doctor.
In your statement, you must state that you predesignate your own doctor to provide medical care if you suffer a workplace injury or illness. Furthermore, you must include the doctor’s name, address and telephone number. It might be a good idea to include information about your medical insurance. Finally, add your name, your signature and the date.
Which types of medical professionals may you predesignate?
Before writing your statement, take note of the following restrictions in your choice of medical care provider:
- The doctor must be a primary care physician who has treated you before.
- The chosen physician must have your medical records.
- The doctor must be a family practitioner, internist, obstetrician-gynecologist, pediatrician or general practitioner.
- It could be a doctor of medicine or a doctor of osteopathy.
Can you predesignate a medical group?
Only a medical group that meets the following required criteria may be your predesignated care providers:
- The group must coordinate and offer various medical services along with primary care.
- The group must include licensed doctors of osteopathy or medicine.
- Their typical services must provide medical care for conditions not related to workplace injuries or illnesses.
What about your acupuncturist or chiropractor?
Care providers in these fields cannot be your predesignated doctor. However, you can include the names of a chosen personal acupuncturist or chiropractor in your written statement. This will allow you to seek such care after seeing a doctor selected by the workers’ compensation claims adjuster.
Lastly, but equally important, the predesignated medical care provider you choose must agree to treat you after an occupational injury or illness. To confirm such an agreement, the doctor or medical group must be in writing and included with your predesignating statement that you give to your employer.
Compliance with all the regulations should leave you free to go to your own doctor after an on-the-job injury. However, suppose your employer attempts to force you to go to a physician chosen by the company. In that case, you might want to consult with an attorney with experience in dealing with the California workers’ compensation system and work-related injuries. Legal counsel can deal with both your employer and the claims coordinator to protect your rights to go to a predesignated medical care provider.