Guest Post – Meuser Law Office, P.A. “Medical Treatment and the Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Act”

Can I choose my treating physician?

Yes, you have the right to choose your treating health care provider. But, you must choose wisely because once you choose a treating physician, it becomes difficult to switch. As such, you also have to be careful about continuing treatment with the employer-recommended physician. The employer’s physician will be deemed to have been “selected” by you as your primary treating physician if you continue to treat with him or her.

Who may provide my treatment?

The Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) covers medical treatment for an employee injured within the course and scope of employment at a “health care provider.” A health care provider is defined as “a physician, podiatrist, chiropractor, dentist, optometrist, osteopath, psychologist, psychiatric social worker or any other person who furnishes a medical or health service to an employee.” Minn. Stat. 176.135, subd. 2(a). The WCA covers treatment with out of state medical providers but the fees paid are dictated by the workers’ compensation fee schedule. Practically speaking, this means that many out of state providers will be paid less for treating Minnesota workers’ compensation claims and they may not want to provide them with services as a result.

Can I change my treating physician?

After you’ve chosen or selected your treating physician and you’ve treated with this physician on two or more occasions, this physician is deemed your primary treating physician. This means that you have to provide a reasonable basis for a change of treating physicians if you don’t switch to a new physician within the first 60 days of treatment.

The case law is clear that you cannot change your primary treating physician for purposes of litigation—e.g., your doctor refuses to write a supportive narrative report or issue work restrictions. You can, however, change treating physicians if you lose confidence in your doctor. But, this loss of confidence must be supported by actual facts, and not the mere statement that you’ve lost confidence in your doctor. For example, you could indicate that you have lost faith in your doctor’s skill, you could point out that your condition has not improved under your doctor’s care, or you could indicate that there has been a breakdown in communication between you and your doctor. If you have evidence to support any of these rationales, the court would likely approve a change of primary treating physician.

If you change primary treating physicians without prior authorization from your workers’ compensation insurer, the insurer is not liable for treatment rendered by the new primary health care provider unless a change is later approved by the insurer or the court. The court may approve an unauthorized change in treating physicians if the change was required due to an emergency, or if prior approval could not have reasonably been obtained from the insurer.

Contact Meuser Law Office, P.A. for a free, no-obligation case evaluation and consultation. If you have questions regarding your right to medical treatmentwage loss or permanency benefits, the knowledgeable attorneys at Meuser Law Office, P.A. will take the time to understand the intricacies of your case before making recommendations about how to proceed. Call us today at 1-877-746-5680.