If you were hurt at work, your employer may quickly provide you with a list of their preferred physicians — and strongly suggest that you pick one for your treatment.
Does that make you uneasy? If so, those feelings are justified. Doctors don’t usually end up on a “preferred” list if they’re seen as overly sympathetic to the injured workers they see. A doctor with a “company mindset” may be inclined to minimize your injuries or put you back on the job before you’re ready.
Who controls your choice of doctor?
In Rhode Island, injured workers enjoy the right to initially choose their own physicians for treatment. If you need a referral to a specialist, you also have the right to pick one of your choosing. (It’s also important to note that emergency care immediately following a workplace accident doesn’t count as your initial choice of doctor.)
What happens if you choose the wrong doctor?
It’s important to select your doctor wisely. If your chosen physician isn’t a good match for you, you can’t change doctors until you find out if your employer (or their insurer) has a list of doctors on their preferred provider network (PPN). If they do, you must either select one from that list or get special permission to choose someone else. Even if they don’t have a PPN, you will still need permission for the change — and that may not be easily obtained.
Your employer likely understands your right to choose your own physician, but that won’t necessarily stop them from trying to push you toward a doctor of their choosing. If you’re unsure of your rights or feel that you’re being treated unfairly, it may be time to discuss your workers’ compensation claim with an attorney who can work to protect your rights and your future.