Your employer is required to provide you with a reasonably safe environment to work in. But no matter how safe employers make their workplace, injuries on the job can occur. These injuries can include broken bones, burns, muscle injuries, illnesses, and psychological injuries. In the U.S., each state has a system in place to support employees when they experience a work-related injury.
Options Governing Medical Care After a Work-Related Injury
Following a work-related injury, you may wonder if you’re allowed to select your medical care provider. The laws governing this choice vary from state to state. Here is a brief look at Rhode Island law and your options if you are injured on the job:
You are entitled to a first choice medical practitioner. In Rhode Island, an injured employee is entitled to one “first choice” selection, meaning that your employer cannot dictate where you seek treatment. An employer may, however, offer care with a different doctor. If you accept this offer prior to selecting a first choice provider, you still have the option to switch to your preferred provider. However, if you return to the employer-preferred doctor for additional treatment, this doctor may then be considered your first choice.
You may be able to change doctors after using your first choice opportunity. It may be possible for you to switch medical care providers to treat a work-related injury after using your first choice option. In many cases, you will be asked to choose from the employer’s Preferred Provider Network (PPN), if applicable, to select a pre-approved provider for further care. With prior approval, you may still be able to seek medical care from a provider that is not listed in the PPN. However, if you seek medical attention that is not approved at this stage, you are likely to be liable for any accrued medical bills for any treatment you receive.
You can be referred to a specialist. Without prior approval, you may be referred to a specialist or another provider for a specific treatment. This includes out of state treatment, which is protected by the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Act.
Regardless of where you seek your primary treatment, you may be required to undergo a medical evaluation with a doctor that has been chosen by your employer’s insurance provider. This appointment will be paid for by the insurer, and you will have access to any documented observations made by the physician during this appointment.
After experiencing a work injury, it is recommended to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney to understand your options and choose the best course of action for your health, as well as for your claim. For a consultation, contact us at 888-591-9976 to discuss your case.