It’s important to have a good relationship with your medical providers, but injured workers in North Carolina have limited choices about whom they see for their job-related conditions.
In essence, you can pick any doctor off the list of approved providers for your employer or their insurance company. But that’s not really much of a choice. What happens if you think that your doctor is misguided, inept or biased against you?
Your right to ask for a different workers’ comp doctor
There’s no question that doctors who primarily treat workers’ comp patients know who really pays their bills, and that can sometimes influence their decisions — and even the care that an injured worker receives.
Maybe your doctor is pushing you to return to work before you’re healed, denying you physical therapy or refuses to authorize surgery that you believe you need. Here’s what you can do:
- You can ask, in writing, for a second opinion by a doctor of your choice. If approved, your employer must pay for the consultation. If your request is denied, you can appeal the denial to the Industrial Commission. For the most part, you have a right to a second opinion — but you may have to go through a few hoops to exercise that right.
- You can ask to change medical providers. Generally, this is easiest to accomplish when you have a second opinion from another medical provider which is at odds with your treating physician’s opinion. Or, you have had a total breakdown in the physician-patient relationship. Your request to transfer your care must show by “a preponderance of the evidence” that switching doctors is necessary for your relief, and it must be approved by the Industrial Commission.
Don’t expect your employer or their insurer to be happy with your request. In fact, they’re probably going to try to fight you because it’s cheaper for them if you don’t seek another provider’s opinion.
Sometimes, the only good way to protect your interests in a workers’ compensation claim is to get legal help. An attorney can advocate for you and protect your rights.