Yes, sort of. You are supposed to be provided a list (also called a “panel”) of three doctors to choose from after your injury. In my experience, I have seen employers and insurance companies often “guide” injured workers to doctors they like rather than offer them a choice. In cases like that, once you’ve begun treating with the doctor they chose for you, it can be difficult to get switched to a doctor of your choice because the original doctor has now become the “treating physician.”
If you’ve been getting medical care for your work-related injury from a “bone & joint” doctor (orthopedic) or other doctor, and that doctor refers you to another specialist (like a “pain” doctor), you get to choose which doctor to go to next. DO NOT LET THE INSURANCE ADJUSTER OR CASE NURSE CHOOSE FOR YOU. You get to choose from a list of three doctors/treatment providers. This list should be provided to you by the workers’ comp insurance company. Insurance companies rarely tell injured workers’ that they have a right to choose from a panel of doctors or treatment providers.
Remember, the insurance company is in business to make money. They make less money when they have to pay for medical care for injured workers. It is in their interest to “guide” injured workers’ to doctors that cost them less money. This is not to say that all doctors recommended by the workers’ comp insurance company are “working for them” as many of my clients say. Some of them are fine doctors that truly do their best for their patients. Just remember, you have a right to a choice by law in Virginia.
As an example, I know from recent, direct experience of a case where an injured worker received care from the same orthopedic doctor for over two and a half years (23 visits to this doctor). This doctor was very helpful to this worker and the worker continued to receive wage and medical benefits as required by law. The doctor decided the injured worker needed pain management and told his staff to put that in his medical notes. The case nurse assigned by the insurance company talked to his staff and told them the name of a specific pain management doctor to put in the notes. They did.
The injured worker was then directed to this specific pain management doctor for “treatment.” After one visit with this doctor, the injured worker was told that his pain was not work related and was released to work, full duty. This doctor did not provide treatment at all and simply left the injured worker out in the cold.
This and other horrible scenarios are common in the world of workers’ comp.
Remember, get quality legal help soon after you are injured.