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Who Chooses My Doctor?

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When you are injured, your first instinct is probably to seek medical attention. You might assume, or hope, that you can be treated by the medical professional(s) of your choice; maybe your longtime family doctor, or a surgeon you saw for a previous operation. This is the case in some states around the country, like Wisconsin and Massachusetts. However, Indiana law states that your employer is responsible for “furnishing” your medical providers. Courts have interpreted this language to mean that your employer is allowed to assign your doctor/physical therapist/etc. to you – you do not get to choose who provides your care.

What happens if you aren’t satisfied with the provider that your employer has assigned you? Unfortunately, switching providers is typically very difficult. You cannot, for example, switch providers just because you dislike your doctor/therapist. However, in certain situations, you can seek treatment from a different provider while still retaining your workers comp benefits. You can always see another doctor in emergent situations; for example, if you experience complications related to your work injury and need immediate surgery, you don’t have to wait for your appointed surgeon to become available in order to have the procedure done. You can go to a different surgeon without a problem.

In a somewhat similar situation, you can also seek outside treatment if your employer-appointed doctor determines that you need immediate treatment that your employer has not authorized. If this is the case, you can proceed with treatment from another provider.

Finally, you may be able to switch providers if you have genuine concerns about the treatment being provided. This is a murky area. It probably will require some input from your attorney – and maybe another medical professional that must you hire at your own expense – but you may have success changing providers if your concern relates to the quality of care you are receiving.

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