What to Do with a Bad Virginia Workers Compensation Doctor
It seems like I hear a new horror story each week from an injured worker having to deal with a bad workers’ comp doctor. Refusing to refer for second opinions. Not ordering diagnostic tests. Ignoring the injured worker’s symptoms and returning them to full duty work after a closed door meeting with the nurse case manager. These are just a few of the stories.
Unfortunately work injury attorneys are not allowed to select the doctors for their clients. The insurance company is able to limit your choice of doctors – and sometimes the panel of physicians offered contains nothing but bad choices.
The limit on who you can treat with after your work accident doesn’t mean that you should give up. As an experienced Virginia workers compensation lawyer, I’ve dealt with many of the doctors who accept workers’ compensation insurance in Richmond, Hampton Roads, and surrounding areas. Based on this experience, I can advise you of the best doctors to choose from the panel and what you should do to make sure the doctor is working for you and your claim, not just the insurance company.
There are few things worse than getting hurt on the job, then having to wait weeks or months to get an appointment with an orthopedic specialist or neurosurgeon, only to have the doctor spend one minute in your room and tell you that you’re fine and able to work without conducting an examination or sending you for a MRI or CT scan. But this happens to injured workers all the time. The doctor tells them one thing at the examination and another after speaking with the nurse case manager.
I can’t even count the number of times that new clients with neck and back injuries have told me that a general practice doctor sent them to physical therapy without even ordering a diagnostic exam or sending them to a specialist. The injured worker attends therapy, but it doesn’t work because therapy won’t solve a fracture, disc herniation causing nerve encroachment, or instability in the lumbar discs requiring a fusion. Meanwhile the injured worker has spent months in pain undergoing treatment that won’t work. They should have been sent to a specialist and received surgical care right after the accident. If they had received the treatment they needed right away, they would have missed less time from work and have had a better chance of returning to their pre-injury employment.
I’ve also seen workers’ comp doctors tell patients that all their problems are related to obesity. They refuse to provide additional treatment unless the injured worker loses weight. While losing weight may help, the underlying problem requires surgery. No amount of weight loss will make the pain go away or heal a true orthopedic problem that needs intervention.
I’ve even heard of doctors who tell the injured worker that they know they’re unable to return to work, but that they won’t provide total disability slips because the insurance company may question them. They’d rather avoid confrontation or risk losing their spot on the insurance company’s panel than do what they know is right for their patient. So instead of taking the patient out of work completely, they restrict them to light duty that may cause additional problems. At a minimum the light duty restriction means the claimant must look for work or risk having their wage loss claim denied.
If you’ve ever talked to someone who has been through the workers’ comp process, you’ve probably heard similar stories. When the insurance company is able to limit your freedom of choice and sends nurse case managers to lobby the physician, the injured worker is often on the short end of the stick.
So you get it. Some doctors are good. And some doctors are bad. How do you choose the right workers’ comp doctor? By contacting a skilled workers compensation attorney to make sure you choose the best doctor possible and to stay on top of your medical care so that you can avoid one of these bad situations. It is best if you can avoid a doctor who sees workers’ comp as nothing more than a way to pad his practice’s profits.
Have a question about the medical process after a work accident. Looking to avoid a bad Virginia workers compensation doctor? Then contact workers’ comp lawyer Corey Pollard for a free consultation. We help injured employees across Virginia.