Following a work injury, the injured worker generally possesses the right to pick the treating doctor. It has long been the law that Minnesota employees are given great latitude both in choosing and changing physicians. This choice can be limited, if the employer participates in a certified managed care plan. If that is the case, the employee will be required to pick a physician within the list provided by the plan – unless a documented history of treatment before the injury with that doctor can be demonstrated. Absent a certified plan, however, the employee has the right to choose the doctor who treats the injury.
Injured workers should understand, that accepting a doctor suggested by the employer can result in that doctor becoming the treating physician. Minnesota law indicates that a doctor who treats an employee two times for an injury becomes the “primary healthcare provider”. The law further allows an employee to change this primary healthcare provider one time within the first 60 days after treatment begins – without first obtaining permission from the employer or insurer. After 60 days, however, a change of primary physician must be approved by the employer or the workers’ compensation insurer – or if need be, the workers’ compensation court system.
The choice of the primary healthcare provider can have long-lasting consequences for an injured worker. Care should be taken by an injured worker, then, to choose a physician who is both qualified and competent to treat the injury. An injured worker need not simply accept the physician foisted on them by the employer or insurer.