An injured worker is entitled to medical care and treatment for his or her work injury. The Workers Compensation Act provides a list of goods and services the insurance company must provide for certain work injuries, everything from surgical care to false teeth.
Most importantly, in D.C., you have the right to choose your own physician. We've said this before and it written about this issue many times, but it bears repeating. Many adjusters and employers will try and steer you to a doctor who works with the insurance company frequently, or worse, to some type of worker's clinic that treats only people hurt on the job (guess where they get their patients).
While you have the right to choose your own physician, if you later want to change doctors, you must then get the approval of the workers comp insurance company or the Office of Workers' Compensation. If the insurance company has referred someone to a physician, that situation can be considered a constructive choice of the physician, depending on the length and complexity of the medical treatment provided.
Time and time again we hear from people hurt on the job that the insurance adjuster told them they had to treat with a "panel" physician or an "approved workers' compensation physician" or say they have to be in some type of network for their D.C. work injury. It's just not true.
Sometimes the insurance company will send a list of three doctors to choose from, like they're allowed to do in Virginia. Three doctors on the list are invariably the top three they hire to perform litigation exams. Unfortunately, many injured workers do not realize they have a right to choose their doctor-- and the insurance company will not tell them.
Remember, in D.C. and Maryland, you have the right to choose your doctor. Get a doctor who is experienced and does not work for insurance companies. One that will listen to you and get the treatment and tests your medical condition requires. Don't give up that right!
For more information on protecting your rights when you're hurt on the job, get a copy of our book, Protect Your Rights: The Ultimate Guide to D.C. Workers' Compensation.