Seeing a workers’ compensation doctor is different than seeing your family physician. When you are injured at work, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier gets to dictate which doctor you see. They give you three doctors to choose from which they have hand picked! I have a lot of injured workers tell me that they feel something is wrong with their neck/back/knee but the doctor has ordered physical therapy and the injured worker is upset because they asked for an MRI but the doctor didn’t order it and sent them to physical therapy instead.
Here’s the trick folks – for workers’ compensation, WHAT THE DOCTOR SAYS GOES! What I mean by this is that you can request treatment or testing all day long but the insurance carrier does not have to address it because you are not the doctor (the medical professional licensed by the State of Virginia).
Only the doctor has the authority to say what treatment or testing is appropriate for your current medical condition. I understand that this may not be a doctor you like or a doctor that you would ever choose to see again but, in Virginia, this is currently how the system works.
So, if the doctor orders physical therapy, even if you feel that you can’t or shouldn’t do the therapy, you have to make an attempt at it. If you go to therapy and are too physically injured to do the necessary work in therapy, the therapist can report this to the doctor and then the doctor can make the necessary changes to your treatment plan or, possibly, send you for an MRI or other testing at that point. The problem is, if you don’t at least attempt to follow the doctor’s orders, even if you are in disagreement with them, the workers’ compensation insurance carrier can say that you are not cooperating with the medical treatment and can terminate your workers’ compensation benefits altogether. Believe me, you don’t want to be in that situation because, once benefits are terminated due to an injured workers’ unwillingness to follow doctor’s orders, it is EXTREMELY difficult to get these benefits reinstated and it takes a VERY LONG TIME.
If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.