When you’re injured or sick, you want a doctor you can trust — and you don’t relish the idea of being forced to pick a strange doctor from a list of names selected by somebody else.
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s laws take the decision mostly out of your control — at least for a while. If your employer has properly established a panel list of medical providers, those are your only options for 90 days after your first visit.
What does it take for an employer to establish a panel list?
There are some rules your employer has to follow, and it’s important to know them so you understand your rights and obligations:
- Any list of providers your employer selects must have at least three physicians (not just nurse practitioners, chiropractors or physician assistants).
- The providers must all be reasonably accessible, geographically speaking, and you must be provided with their full contact information and specialty area of practice, if any.
- The list must have specialists who are appropriate for the kind of injuries that can be reasonably anticipated in your line of work.
- If there is no specialist on the list for the type of care that you need, you have the right to go to a provider of your own choosing.
- You must be provided with a written notice of your rights and duties, which includes information about the list of providers, both when you hire on and when changes are made.
- You must sign an acknowledgment of each notice, both when you are first hired and any time the list is updated.
- Your employer is prohibited from steering you toward any specific provider on the list, and you may change from one provider on the list to another at will.
If your employer hasn’t kept up with their obligations, you are free to pick your own physician from the start.
Workers’ compensation was always meant to be a stress-free, no-fault system that made getting treatment and replacement income after a workplace injury easier. It doesn’t always work that way. Don’t hesitate to get legal assistance if you’re hitting roadblocks to your claim.