One concern that injured workers have when they are injured in a work-related accident is whether they can choose their own doctors. The answer to that questions, is that yes, in an Illinois worker’s compensation case, you can choose your own doctor. In fact, you can see two doctors of your choosing and any other doctors that they refer you to. Going further, if you are referred on to additional doctors, you can see them as well.
The simplest way to think of the issue of physician choice in a worker’s compensation case is that you are allowed to see all of the doctors in a chain of referrals where you’re the doctor you select is at the end of the chain.
For example, let’s assume that you suffer a lower back injury in a work-related car accident. You go to see your primary care doctor (Doctor A) who refers you to a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor (Doctor B). You continue to have lower back pain, so Doctor B refers you to a neurologist to have nerve testing done by Dr. C a neurologist and to have an MRI done which will be read by Dr. D, a radiologist. It shows that you have a herniated disc, so Dr. B sends you to a pain specialist, Dr. E, who gives you an injection in your back. That fails to help, so Dr. B refers you to Dr. F, a spine surgeon, who recommends surgery. As part of your medical clearance for the operation, he sends you to Dr. G, a cardiologist for pre-surgical clearance.
All of that care would be considered one physician choice by you. You chose one physician and then saw each doctor after that based on a referral or re-referral from the doctor you chose. All of the physicians from Dr. B through Dr. G originated with the first choice to see Dr. A.
Suppose that you did not like one of the doctors you were sent to, or wanted a second opinion on the recommendation that Dr. F made for spine surgery – what then? There are two options: (1) you could make a new physician choice, or (2) go back to one of the physicians that you saw and ask for another referral. For example, if you did not like the recommendation that Dr. F was making regarding surgery, you could go back to Dr. B and ask for a referral to another spine surgeon (call him Dr. H), and this would still all be considered part of one physician choice under the Illinois worker’s comp laws.
A couple of further notes on the issue of doctor choice and Illinois workmen’s compensation: 1. Emergency room care is usually not considered a physician choice by the employee; and 2. Care received at a company clinic is usually not considered a physician choice by the injured worker, but this can be a little murky.
If you have concerns about the issues of your ability to see a doctor of your own choosing for your worker’s compensation case, please be sure to consult an experienced Chicago accident attorney.