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Doctor prevented from treating injured workers

The Workers' Compensation Board of New York has removed one of the doctors on its list of those approved to examine injured workers under the system.

The doctor admitted to a variety of issues with his quality of care, including failing to retain accurate medical records that showed what evaluation patients had received from him, failing to order appropriate tests and consultations and failing to give patients' medical history or symptoms an adequate evaluation. He also admitted to not monitoring such diverse patient-care issues as thyroid function or sodium levels. In addition, he never documented whether patients were being seen for psychiatric care.

As a result of his admissions, he is required to treat patients only under the care and supervision of another doctor for the next three years.

Cases like this illustrate the problems that many workers' compensation patients and their attorneys have noticed for years about the types of doctors who do evaluations for workers' compensation insurance companies. Many feel that, since they are paid primarily by the insurance company, the doctors lack both concern for their patients' actual well-being and an unbiased view of their patients' conditions. Revelations of this sort only serve to further that perception.

If you're required to go to an independent examination by a workers' compensation doctor, there are several things you can do to try to protect yourself against an abuse of the system:

  • Bring your treating doctor's records with you, including a record of your limitations. It's harder to ignore another doctor's written opinion when it's in your file.
  • Take a friend or family member with you to the appointment. Knowing a witness is present may encourage the doctor to be more circumspect in his or her observations.
  • Remember that the doctor is not there to treat you. View any friendly overtures with suspicion and be cautious in your answers. Keep in mind that a simple question like, "How are you today?" could be loaded. If you say, "Fine," out of habit, you could be giving the doctor ammunition to use against you.

If you've been injured on the job, don't let a bad doctor cost you your workers' compensation benefits. If necessary, seek professional advice and explore your legal options.

Source: Business Insurance, "N.Y. comp board revokes doctor’s authority to treat injured workers," Joyce Famakinwa, Feb. 05, 2018

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