Following an admitted injury it is very common for the employer to send the injured employee to “their” doctor. Typically, this is at a facility which deals frequently with injured workers. For many injured workers, although the doctor may be treating them, it is still not their doctor. In fact, they had no choice or even say as to who is treating them. As result, under Minnesota workers’ compensation law an injured worker may change doctors within the first 60 days of medical treatment without the need for court approval. However, after the first 60 days it must be approved by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.
As a general rule, the court has given great latitude in choosing and changing physicians. Reasons that have been allowed have included:
• Loss of confidence in a doctor’s ability to effectively treat the injured worker;
• Lack of improvement in the employee’s condition; and
• A breakdown in communication with the physician.
Please note that a compensation judge shall not approve a request to change primary providers, where:
1. a significant reason underlying the request is an attempt to block reasonable treatment or to avoid acting on the provider’s opinion concerning the employee’s ability to return to work.
2. the change is to develop litigation strategy rather than to pursue appropriate diagnosis and treatment;
3. the provider lacks the expertise to treat the employee for the injury;
4. the travel distance to obtain treatment is an unnecessary expense and the same care is available at a more reasonable location;
5. at the time of the employee’s request, no further treatment is needed; or
6. or another reason, the request is not in the best interest of the employee and the employer.
If you are having difficulty changing physicians, it may be in your best interest to contact an attorney to evaluate your options. The longer you wait to change physicians, the more difficult it may become for you to change doctors.