THE SHORT ANSWER IS...IT DEPENDS.
After being injured in D.C. on my job, I started medical treatment with an orthopedic surgeon for my back injury and the workers compensation insurance company approved my doctor. They have been paying the medical bills. But now the doctor doesn't seem to be helping my back injury, which is not getting any better and could be a herniated disk. Can I change my treating doctor if I was hurt at work in D.C.?
The insurance company tried to "assign" me a doctor. Can they do that?
First of all, every worker hurt on the job in D.C. has the right to choose their own physician. The workers' comp insurance company can't just send you to some doctor or clinic. But once you have made the choice of a treating physician, it may be difficult to change doctors (or at least difficult to do so quickly). If you would like more aggressive treatment than your treating orthopedic surgeon is recommending, you can request a hearing with the Office of Workers Compensation to get the change in physician approved, but this can take several months. If the workers comp insurance company agrees to the requested change, you can begin treatment with the new orthopedic doctor.
Finally, if your doctor refers you to another orthopedic surgeon or other specialist, that treatment will be covered.
Does that help? In summary, if you were hurt in DC you do get to choose your treating physician, even if your work "assigns" you a doctor. In Maryland you also are permitted to choose your own doctor. In Virginia, you can choose from a panel of three physicians.
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