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Many questions arise when an appointment is scheduled with the workers comp doctor

As a practicing work injury attorney I am often asked questions about the workers compensation doctor(s).  Why did workers comp schedule me with their doctor? Do I have to go see their doctor? Do I have to treat with workers comp’s doctor? Why did the workers’ compensation doctor not examine me?  The appointment with their doctor was only a few minutes, why?

The “workers comp doctor” may be a physician the injured worker is sent to for an Independent Medical Evaluation or a doctor on the insurance companies list that are approved to treat the worker.

Why did workers comp schedule me with their doctor?

Most often this question arises when an Independent Medical Evaluation (IME) is scheduled.  First, note that the term “Independent” is hardly accurate and often these appointments are for a Dependent Medical Evaluation (DME).  When workers comp schedules an IME it is for their benefit only and not for the benefit of the injured worker.  In this regard the workers comp doctor is paid  a significant amount of money by the insurance company, some close to a million dollars annually, to perform an evaluation for the use of the insurance company in defending the case.  The insurance company uses the IME report for the purpose of fighting medical treatment the injured workers treating physician has prescribed.  Prescribed treatment may include continued therapy, surgery, injections, x-rays, MRI’s, or more.

The workers comp doctor is often asked to comment on the injured workers ability to perform their job duties.  While a treating physician may find the injured worker needs time to rest, the IME doctor may, and often does, disagree and opines that the worker can perform full duty job requirements.  This provides the insurance adjuster adequate evidence to stop lost wage payments.

The short answer is an appointment was made with the workers comp doctor so that they can try to terminate benefits.

Here is a list of some of the IME doctors often used in Maryland.
Read all about IME’s here.

Do I have to go see the workers compensation doctor?

If an appointment with a workers comp doctor is schedule for the purpose of an Independent Medical Evaluation (IME) than the injured Maryland worker is required by state law to attend the appointment.  Often the insurance company will provide transportation if the injured worker is unable to drive as a result of the accident or simply has no transportation.

If the injured worker has been directed by their employer to go see a specific doctor, often Concentra, WorkMed, or Occupational health the injured worker is under no legal obligation to see their doctor, however attendance may be an employment requirement.  Otherwise stated, Maryland workers compensation laws do not require the injured worker to go see Concentra, workmed, or Occupational health doctors, but as a condition to employment the injured worker may be required to see the workers comp doctor.

 

If an Independent Medical Evaluation has been scheduled in your workers compensation case contact Baltimore Attorney Andrew M. Rodabaugh for a Free consultation. Call +1 (410) 937-1659 , or  Email

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Do I have to treat with the Workers Comp Doctor?

In Maryland the choice of treating physician is up to the injured worker.  The injured worker can not be forced to treat with a doctor selected by the insurance company nor one selected by the employer.  With that being said, if part of the employment agreement is that the worker is seen by a doctor the employer chooses they may have to attend occasional appointments with the workers comp doctor or risk damaging their employment.

The insurance adjuster will often have a list of Workers Comp Doctors from which the injured worker can choose a treating physician.  This list is created for the benefit of workers comp and not the benefit of the injured worker.  These pre-approved doctors have been carefully vetted and chosen by workers comp strategically and arguably without the claimant’s interest in mind.

Injured workers do not have to treat with the workers compensation doctor and may choose any doctor that accepts workers comp insurance, and is accepting patients.  There are many options outside of those provided by the insurance adjuster or those provided by the employer.  See google search results for Maryland workers compensation doctors.

Why didn’t the workers’ compensation doctor examine me?

“Because then I would have to treat you!” said a workers comp doctor.  One of my old clients was told this by a certain doctor at a certain medical facility to which his employer sent him.  Some of the workers compensation physicians perform an examination that is felt to be less than adequate to discovery any injury or objective findings.  Many injured workers feel this is the case when the examination is for either an IME or for treatment by the workers comp doctor.

One can only speculate as to the reason for a lackadaisical medical evaluation however the injured worker does not and should not be content with less than adequate medical treatment.  If the workers compensation doctor does not evaluate adequately and according to medical standards than a different medical provider should be sought.

The extent of the workers comp doctor’s evaluation will depend on which doctor is performing the evaluation and whether it is for the purpose of treatment or for an IME

The workers comp doctor performing the IME- Again, the purpose of a Independent Medical Evaluation is so the insurance company can have the legal evidence to terminate workers comp benefits, whether they be lost wage payments or treatment.  Once they have an IME indicating no more treatment is necessary, or that the injured worker can work full duty then they may legal terminate the applicable benefit.  IME doctors are aware their Independent Medical Evaluation is ultimately used for legal purposes and know what the workers comp insurance company wants to hear.  Do IME doctors always issue reports in the favor of workers comp- No.  Do most of the IME’s performed for workers comp lean favorable to them- Yes.

Many claimants will spend more time in the waiting room than in the exam room with the IME doctor.  The doctor reviews the medical records in his or her possession before or after the exam.  He or she then performs a physical examination as necessary.  On some occasions an extensive physical exam may not, in their opinion, be necessary because the medical reports provide all that is needed to provide a medical opinion.  Other times the workers comp doctor may perform a longer physical examination in an effort to find inconsistencies in symptoms or to catch the injured worker feigning symptoms.  Yet other IME doctors will perform an extensive examination and record review because they want to issue an opinion that is truly independent.

IME doctors often indicate in their reports that no doctor/patient relationship exists.  Could this mean there is no ethical or moral obligation for them to help the injured worker and they may perform the evaluation outside of professional ethical confines?

The workers comp doctor as a treating- 

There are a number of excellent doctors chosen by insurance companies to provide treatment to injured workers in the event the injured worker decides to use “the workers comp” doc.  If the injured worker is lucky enough to be sent to one of these doctors than treatment will often continue uninterrupted by any IME.  Unfortunately, there are also a number of not so good workers comp doctors.  Doctors that may treat the injured worker too conservatively, or refrain from ordering more expensive tests because it will cost workers comp more money.  The standard of care provided by the workers compensation physicians can very in degree and before an injured worker begins treatment with any workers comp doctor that is selected by the adjuster they should seek a free consultation with an attorney.

 

 

For a no cost consultation with Baltimore Workers Compensation Attorney Andrew M. Rodabaugh call  +1 (410) 937-1659     , Email ,  or fill out the form below:

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