Monday, April 27, 2009

Change of Physician stats

The Division of Workers Comp issued some stats in two areas recently. These stats suggest that few people request a change of physicians in a workers comp case. However as with any statistics they can be read in different ways. First, a formal change of physician can take place in many different ways and these stats only deal with two of the ways. You can change a physician by agreement, by order, by abandonment of care, by a 20 day letter using a provision of 8-43-404 and by acting within the first 90 days by another provision of 8-43-404. My experience with 20 day letters is that they are usually denied by the insurer. Second, the stats seem to imply that injured workers are content with treatment so they do not want a change of doctors. Again, my impression is quite different. Having said that the way to understand this is to start with the fact that the employer designates the doctor to treat the injured worker. With minor injuries perhaps that is fine and speedy treatment deals with the injury so the worker can quickly return to work. But with more serious injuries a hand picked doctor in a clinic situation may not be the best choice. Often an injured worker is not very happy with his treatment but tries to make it work. So any effort to change comes too late and at some point an effort is made to close the case. Injured workers that are well treated and recover seldom seek attorneys. My opinion is that the number one reason many people come to see me is that they feel their medical treatment was inadequate and the injury was minimized by the doctor and the insurer.

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