In the immediate aftermath of an on-the-job injury, your first and foremost concern is seeking medical attention as soon as possible. The last thing on your mind is choosing between your own doctor and one that actively works with your employer or the insurer handling your employer's workers' compensation policy.
In some states, you'll have the freedom to choose between your physician and the company-provided doctor. Other states may give your employer the right to choose your doctor beyond the initial visit or emergency room visit. The following details what you can expect when you choose your own doctor or see one recommended by your employer.
What Happens When You See the Company Doctor?
If you live in a state where employers have the right to choose your doctor, your employer may have its own panel of doctors you must choose from. If you don't use one of these doctors within the first 90 days of treatment, your workers' compensation provider won't be obligated to pay for your medical treatment. Some states may even allow you to see your own doctor after seeing a company physician for a certain period of time.
The only major difference between receiving treatment from a company doctor versus your own is the physician's ultimate interest. The company doctor's interests may align more closely to those of your employer and/or the workers' comp insurance provider. As a result, you may not receive the same level of medical care that you would if you were using your own doctor. For example, your company doctor may not perform certain tests in the interest of saving the company money.
What Happens When You Choose Your Own Doctor?
There are plenty of benefits to choosing your own doctor instead of going with a company-provided doctor. Choosing your own physician ensures you have someone whose interest lies solely in getting you the best care possible. Your own doctor is also more likely to provide you with MRIs and additional testing that reveal the full extent of your injuries.
However, there may be some restrictions on who can be your attending physician for the purposes of your worker's comp claim. Some states may allow treatment from chiropractors and naturopaths, but only for a limited number of visits. Depending on your state's rules, you can even change your attending physician if you're unsatisfied with your quality of care. However, you can only do this a limited number of times in some states, while others require your employer's prior approval.