In most cases, the injured worker can choose her treating doctor for the industrial injury, so long as that happens before the second visit. An exception is if your employer is self-insured and directs medical care.
For example, you are hurt on the job and, per employer policy, you go to an urgent care facility (i.e., Concentra or FastMed) for treatment on the day of the injury. If you go back to the urgent care facility for a follow-up visit, the doctor becomes your treating doctor.
What should you do instead, if you want to choose your treating doctor? Find a physician who accepts workers’ compensation and go see that doctor. Your primary care doctor may be willing to treat you, or may be able to refer you to a specialist if needed.
As a courtesy, notify the workers’ compensation insurance carrier who you want to see for further treatment of the industrial injury. Be prepared as well to pay for the first visit out-of-pocket, if necessary, and be sure to tell the doctor you’ve chosen that treatment is for an industrial injury.
If the carrier denies your request, call the Industrial Commission’s Ombudsman at (800) 544-6488 and explain your situation, or contact a workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your options.
Self-insured employers that direct care
Some self-insured employers have the power to direct medical care. A list of self-insured employers that direct medical care can be found here.
If your employer is self-insured with the authority to direct care, you must go the doctors they choose for treatment of your industrial injury. The only way to change doctors is to file a Request to Change doctors with the Industrial Commission and get permission from the employer or the person administrating the claim for the employer to change doctors.
Proposed bill would expand power of government entities and political subdivisions to direct medical care of injured employees
The Arizona State Legislature is considering a bill (follow it: SB 1407) that would greatly restrict the choice of doctors for injured workers’ who are municipal employees or public school employees. Currently, governmental entities can be self-insured but do not have the power to direct medical treatment.
SB 1407 radically changes that and would allow governmental entities to pick doctors and to direct the medical care of its injured workers, who include firefighters, police officers, and teachers.