What a lot of people don't know is that when you are hurt at work in DC you get to choose your own doctor for medical treatment. Your employer's workers' comp insurance company cannot require you to go to one of their physicians. They may tell you that you have to be treated by someone working for the insurance company but that is not true. You get to choose your own treating doctor, and the workers' compensation insurance pays for it. You may want to use your primary care physician to treat your injury, but there are reasons why you should not doso.
Here are 3 reasons not to use your primary care doctor as your main treating physician for your D.C. workers' comp case.
Your unrelated personal information is private. You may have been going to your primary care doctor for a long time and told him or her very personal health information that is now part of your medical chart. Assuming your past medical history has nothing to do with your injury (thyroid cancer 5 years ago has nothing to do with a herniated disc lifting pipe at a construction site), that confidential information should remain between you and your doctor. If the workers' comp insurance company can get a hold of these records, they will (which is why you should never sign a generalized medical release for them). Just recently I saw references to a client's father's drug use in a report done by an insurance medical examiner. It had nothing to do with this person's injury, obviously, but it should not have been disclosed. Remember, every family doctor takes a history and that includes not just you but your family as well.
You probably need a specialist. PCPs are great for a lot of medical issues; wellness checks, etc. But if you've had injuries at work caused by trauma, affecting bones, discs, nerves, etc. you should be seeing a specialist. A good family doctor should recognize this and refer you to a specialist; an orthopedic surgeon, neurosurgeon, pain management physician, etc depending on your condition.
Most PCPs don't deal with workers' comp insurance. Most of the time, your PCP's office is not equipped to deal with the workers' comp insurance. They may not understand the complicated system and that can delay your treatment, meds, and sometimes your weekly benefits. Most of the specialist physicians groups we see understand the workers' comp system. This can save you a lot of headaches and jelp you avoid the run-around, keeping your benefits coming and treatments authorized.
It's fine to get checked out initially by your primary care doctor, or to ask him or her for a referral to a specialist after a serious work injury. But be wary of letting your family doctor assume all of the medical care in a workers' compensation case in D.C.
At Donahoe Kearney we are very familiar with the process and work with a lot of specialist all over the DMV. If the onerous workers' comp process has become too much for you to handle alone, give us a call to see if you might be a good fit for our firm. Call us at 202-393-3320; you will speak to a live person today with no obligation.