Can a Maryland Workers Compensation Attorney refer me to a doctor?
Maryland workers compensation attorneys can refer clients to certain physicians for treatment. Ultimately it is up to the attorney and the injured worker if this referral would be beneficial or if they are best suited to go through a primary care doctor.
The injured workers’ attorney will look at a number of factors when deciding if a referral should be made, to whom the referral should be made, and when the referral should be made.
When would an attorney provide a referral to a physician?
Many Maryland workers compensation attorneys have a working relationship with a number of medical facilities and physicians. It is generally understood that the attorney will ensure the doctor is paid for the treatment provided if the doctor agrees to provide treatment in advance of payment or with some other contingencies. With this said, work injury lawyers are more than willing to refer an injured worker to a doctor at the onset of the case, when the worker has not yet been seen by a physician or a physician in the particular area of medicine needed.
In some cases a second opinion is a valid and necessary need and a referral should be made. Some examples of times when an attorney may refer a client to a physician when the client is already under a doctors’ care are: treating doctor lacks proper bedside manner, loss of communication between the doctor and the client/patient, or if the client/patient has lost trust in the treating doctor.
A referral should NOT be made by the Maryland Workers Comp Attorney when:
The injured worker has already been seen by a physician and is under their care. A change in medical provider may be looked at as doctor shopping for a particular opinion. In some instances a change in medical provider indicates, or provides the argument, the injured worker is simply looking for a doctor that will provide an out of work note, or a physician that is willing to entertain symptom magnification and treat accordingly. In my experience these scenarios are seldom the case, however it does provide the defense an argument that could potentially damage the workers comp case.
Most often, if an injured worker wants a change in pain medication an Attorney should not and will not provide a referral. Not only would this be viewed as doctor shopping, but would be a sign of drug seeking. When there is a question of drug seeking, a referral is best left to a physician.
What about referrals by employers or workers comp adjusters?
Maryland employers often require their employees to be seen by a physician of the employers choosing immediately after a work place accident. While employers are generally allowed to require this as part of their employment agreement, an injured worker may not be forced into treating with any particular doctor.
Injured Maryland workers are often told by the workers comp adjuster or case handlers that there is a “list” of doctors that they are able to see under the workers comp policy. There is no law restricting what doctor an injured Maryland worker can see. In fact, an injured Maryland employee can see any doctor they choose as long as that doctor accepts workers comp insurance. The “list” is carefully created for the benefit of the insurance company and consists of particular doctors for particular reasons. An insurance company is certainly not going to refer an injured worker to a physician that is going to turn a blind eye to the insurance companies interests and the “list” often includes doctors who have a tendency to treat conservatively. This is not to say that the doctors on the list are not very qualified experts. In many cases they are the best of the best; however their theory of medicine and the application thereof may be different than what the injured worker wants or prefers.
In need of a referral to a doctor?
If an injured Maryland worker is in need of a doctor referral it is often not in the best interest of the worker to go to a doctor on the adjusters list. It is best to contact your primary care doctor but also to discuss the referral with a qualified and experienced workers compensation attorney.
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