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Injured at work in Rhode Island? Who picks your doctor?

| Sep 20, 2021 | Workers' Compensation |

If you’re injured on the job in Rhode Island, you’ve probably got a lot of anxiety over your finances and your future — but, first, you have to get your medical treatment squared away.

Who gets to decide which physician you can use for a work-related injury? Here’s what you need to know:

You pick the first doctor (and the emergency room one doesn’t count)

Unlike many other states, Rhode Island allows injured workers to pick their own treating physicians — and any specialist they may need by referral. However, you need to choose carefully. If the doctor you select turns out to be a bad fit, you may not easily be able to change to another. It’s important to note that the doctor who treats you at an urgent care facility or emergency room for an acute injury does not count.

You may need permission to change if you pick the wrong doctor

If you start to distrust your doctor’s wisdom, you cannot easily change physicians. If your employer maintains a list of physicians on its “preferred provider network (PPN),” you generally must select your next physician from that list — or get special permission to change to another doctor of your choosing. 

This essentially puts control over your medical care back in your employer’s hands, and you can bet that the physicians on their PPN aren’t exactly “worker-friendly.”

Despite the fact that workers’ compensation is supposed to be an easy, “no-fault” system that quickly gets injured workers the benefits they need, problems often arise. If you find yourself struggling to get the benefits you are due, it may be time to explore your legal options. 


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