If you’re like most people, you probably aren’t so keen on having a strange doctor put in charge of your medical care. You’d much rather have someone you know treating you.
In California, you probably do have that option – but only if you act with a little foresight. Here’s how you take action:
You should predesignate your preferred physician
In order to use your own physician after a work injury, you have to “predesignate” (pre-select) the medical provider you intend to use before any injury happens. Basically, this is nothing more elaborate than telling your employer that, should you ever be injured on the job, you have definite preferences about your care.
You have the right to pick any medical doctor (M.D.), doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) or group practice of M.D.s and D.O.s (as long as they provide primary care) you want under the following conditions:
- You have medical insurance, whether through your own employment or a spouse’s employment.
- The physician you wish to predesignate agrees to see you for a work-related injury in the future if and when necessary.
- You give your employer written notice about your intention to use that physician if you ever have a work-related injury or illness.
Why is this so important to do, aside from your personal comfort level with your medical provider? Well, your workers’ compensation doctor is the person who largely controls your claim. Their reports will form the basis of what medical services you receive, how long you need to be off work and what kinds of limitations you may have when you return. That’s a lot of power, and you don’t want to put that into the hands of a stranger.
Even so, workers’ compensation claims aren’t always as straightforward as they should be. If you run into trouble with your claim, find out what it takes to fight back.