Can workers’ comp recipients change care providers?

Oftentimes, those receiving care for an injury or illness choose to change their doctor or care provider to another, for a myriad of reasons. However, when what you are being treated for is a workplace injury, accident or illness – it can be very complicated to make such changes.

In North Carolina, if you are receiving workers’ compensation, your medical treatment is provided and directed by your employer or its insurance company. This is overseen by the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

Those who are unhappy with their treatment, or perhaps have a certain doctor they would like to see, can petition the commission to change physicians. Workers’ compensation payment by the employer or carrier is only transferred when written permission for the change is granted by the employer, carrier or commission before treatment.

In some states, injured workers are limited in the number of times they can change providers. Arkansas is one of those states, and the limitation became recently a major problem for one woman whose doctor died.

The woman was receiving workers’ compensation to be treated for a knee injury. Last fall, she requested to change doctors and it was allowed. However, last month her new doctor died, and Arkansas’ Workers’ Compensation Commission has not allowed her to be treated by another physician.

The CEO of the commission told a news reporter that it was an administrative issue, but it could take up to six months to clear up. Apparently, in Arkansas there are more than 100 injured workers who are in need of a second change of physician.

Thankfully, North Carolina does not have such a limitation, but changing providers can still be an administrative hassle for injured or ill workers. If you have been injured on the job, or are suffering from an illness that leaves you unable to work, it may be wise to seek legal counsel in order to ensure you receive all of the benefits to which you are entitled.

Source: KTHV TV, “Workers’ Comp won’t allow Lauren Eason a new doctor, even after hers dies,” Matt Buhrman, Jan. 11, 2012

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