If you’re hurt at work in Georgia, and your employer has a valid panel of physicians, you likely started your medical care with a doctor from that panel. Since these panels are chosen by workers’ compensation insurance companies, however, the treating doctor’s interests may not align with yours, and you may find that you do not agree with, or even like, your doctor. So, you may be wondering, can you change your workers’ comp doctor? Certainly. You’re allowed a change in physician from the panel of doctors in Georgia.
Why you might want to change doctors
If you have a Georgia workers’ compensation claim, you need to attend the medical appointments scheduled with the doctor from the panel of physicians, or the agreed-upon authorized treating doctor. Otherwise, the workers’ comp insurance company may request that your benefits be suspended for failure to cooperate with medical treatment.
This is why your relationship with your workers’ comp doctor is important. In addition to providing treatment for your workplace injury, your doctor sets your work restrictions, refers you to specialists, and decides what type of disability you have. If your doctor doesn’t support your workers’ comp claim, the insurance company will typically deny benefits. If your condition is not improving or you don’t feel you’re getting the level of medical care you need, you may be able to change doctors.
How to switch workers’ comp doctors
If you want to change doctors during your workers’ comp claim and you selected your doctor from a panel of physicians, you can select another doctor from that panel of physicians and notify your employer. O.C.G.A. §34-9-201(b)(1) provides that, after the initial selection of your treating doctor, “The employee may make one change from one physician to another on the same panel without prior authorization of the board.” You can make this one time change for any reason. If you have changed your physician one time under this rule, you are still able to make a request to change doctors again.
How to get a second opinion
If you’ve been on workers’ comp disability benefits for several months you may be able to get an independent medical evaluation (IME) at the workers’ comp insurance company’s expense. Or, your workers’ compensation lawyer may set up and finance an IME for you. The independent medical evaluation can be with a doctor of your choosing. And, if the IME doctor disagrees about the course of your recovery or treatment, it may be possible to appeal your claim.
Get help from our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
Whether the insurance company agrees to a change in physicians with you or not, there are options for making a change (your attorney can file a motion if need be). Certainly, if your doctor is suggesting a treatment you’re not comfortable taking, or if your doctor has released you to a job you know you can’t perform, please explore some of these options for getting another doctor or opinion. Contact our law offices to speak to a knowledgeable Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer at 404-354-5432.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.