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Can your own doctor treat you under workers' compensation law?

When a worker in California is injured on the job and needs medical treatment as part of the workers' compensation benefits process, a question that is often asked is whether it is possible to use a personal physician for the treatment or not. This is also known as taking steps to "predesignate."

To predesignate, it must be done in writing prior to the injury. When predesignating, the following information must be provided: the employer's name; a statement saying that if there is a workplace injury the worker wants his or her personal physician to provide the treatment, with the doctor's personal information; the name of the worker; and a dated signature.

A medical doctor or an osteopath can be named as the predesignated doctor if the doctor has treated the worker in the past and retains his or her medical records. A chiropractor or acupuncturist cannot be named as the predesignated doctor. It must be an internist, OBGYN, G.P., pediatrician or family practitioner. After seeing the predesignated doctor, it is possible to switch to a chiropractor or acupuncturist if their names were given in writing prior to the injury. The doctor must agree to be predesignated beforehand.

If employers have a contract with a health care organization, there are different requirements. There will be a different form for the worker to fill out within the first month of the worker being hired and at least one time annually. On this form, there can be a predesignated doctor or other treating medical professional. With this situation, it is not necessary to show that the doctor agreed to be predesignated.

Workers who have followed the necessary steps and are not allowed to use their personal physician if they meet the other criteria should understand that they may have a legitimate complaint. When there is any work accident and a worker needs medical treatment, will not be able to work and needs to have wages covered and other workers' compensation benefits, it is imperative to have legal assistance to get all they are entitled to. These benefits include, if the situation calls for it, their own personal physician to provide treatment. Our law firm's website provides more information about workers' compensation.

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