Whenever you suffer an illness or injury, it’s natural to want to visit your regular doctor for medical care. It is often more convenient and more comfortable to use your own, familiar doctor for any type of medical need that may arise. In many states, the workers’ compensation system allows injured or ill employees to do so. Unfortunately, Iowa is an exception to this rule. In Iowa, the employer has the right to choose the medical provider of its employees when they are injured or fall ill at work.
What You Need to Know Before You Seek Medical Treatment for an Iowa Work Injury
The workers’ compensation system requires employers to provide medical care when an employee suffers a work-related injury or illness. They have a duty to provide prompt, reasonable care without major inconvenience to the employee. They do have the right, however, as previously stated, to choose the providers for this care. The workers’ compensation commission recommends that employers offer quick instructions for where the injured employee should seek care. If the worker is treated by a provider approved by the employer, the employer is required to pay for all medical expenses related to the injury.
This means that if an employee is injured on the job and is treated by a doctor not approved by the employer, the employer may not be required to pay those bills. Additionally, some health insurance companies may also refuse to pay if workers’ compensation benefits were available for the injury. So, it is important that injured workers make sure their care providers have been approved.
Injured Workers May Be Able to Change Doctors in Certain Circumstances
While the employers are given the right to select providers, there are situations in which the injured worker can change or choose his own doctor. This option can be available when:
- The care is not appropriate. An injured employee has a right to quality care, and if you feel your care is lacking, you may be able to change.
- The doctor is not reasonably suited to treat your injury. In some cases, specialists are required to appropriately treat injuries, or a physician simply does not have the skill to address your injuries. In these cases, the injured employee may be able to pursue treatment from a more qualified doctor.
- The care is not sufficient. If you are unhappy with the level of care, this may also be cause to request a change. Medical care that is not helping to improve your condition can be altered.
- You feel that you have not been properly diagnosed or treated. Anyone who is injured can only get better if a treatment plan addresses the needs of the actual diagnosis. If your provider fails to properly recognize your injuries or if he offers treatment that is not appropriate, a change may be necessary.
It can also be possible to switch providers if the employer-approved care is located a great distance from the employee’s home, and it is difficult to attend appointments.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help You File an Alternate Medical Care Application
If an employee wants to change providers, he will have to file an alternate medical care application with the workers’ compensation commission. Once this form is filed, a hearing will be set within about 10 days to review your case. At that time, the injured worker and his attorney will be able to explain why a change in care is necessary.
At the Pothitakis Law Firm, our experienced legal team has handled a number of these cases and has been able to successfully help injured Iowa workers obtain the appropriate care. Our team may be able to help you effectively prepare and present your case before the judge. If it is determined a change is not necessary, the worker will have to continue with the employer-approved care or incur the expense of treatment out of pocket.
Inappropriate Impairment Ratings Can Also Cause Change in Provider
The only other exception to this rule applies to those whose compensation claim has been accepted and an approved doctor has issued an impairment rating. An impairment rating reflects the extent of the injury suffered by the employee and is used to determine compensation. If an injured worker feels the employer-selected doctor has set the rating too low, he may request a second opinion from a doctor of his own choosing.
If you or someone you love has suffered a workplace illness or injury, you do have the right to prompt, appropriate care covered by your employer. The experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at the Pothitakis Law Firm may be able to help you secure the benefits you deserve. Call our office today at 1-888-329-0243 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.