Injured workers treating doctor and your rights


As the treating doctor’s role is so important following a workplace injury, and the doctor’s opinion can significantly impact on the injured worker’s rights, it is extremely important that an injured worker is completely comfortable with their treating doctor.

Injured workers treating doctor and your rights

Injured workers’ Doctors play a vital role within the workcover system. Their opinion can be the difference between a injured worker’s claim being accepted or rejected, or an injured worker receiving weekly payments or their payments being stopped. Their.opinions can also help injured workers returning to work, when they’re ready in their previous role or a different, suitable role.

Injured workers who require initial and/or ongoing medical treatment are allowed to, and should choose their own doctor for this vital support. This doctor is what we call a “treating doctor” (generally your own GP).

An injured worker’s “treating doctor” can help injured workers with their rehabilitation and their return to work, by for example:

  • Discussing the injured worker’s restrictions and explain which tasks the injured worker can and cannot do;
  • Confirming the amount of hours an  injured worker should perform per day or during the week during the injured worker’s recovery period;
  • Confirming how often an injured worker should have breaks and the length of the breaks;
  • Confirming how much time an injured worker should be off of work following the injury, or following surgery;
  • Confirming whether restrictions are permanent, or whether the injured worker is expected to fully recover over a period of time;
  • Confirming whether the injured worker is (also) suffering from a psychological injury as a result of the workplace injury;
  • Confirming/requesting whether the worker requires help around the house and garden due to their injury
  • Confirming/requesting whether the worker should be referred to other specialists for examination; etc
  • Recording all the above information on a WorkCover Medical Certificate (Certificate of Capacity)

As the treating doctor’s role is so important following a workplace injury, and the doctor’s opinion can significantly impact on the injured worker’s rights, it is extremely important that an injured worker is completely comfortable with their treating doctor.

All too often, injured workers feel pressured to consult with the employer or company’s in-house doctor or a doctor of the employer’s choice. But the injured worker has a fundamental right to seek treatment from their own doctor and/or specialist.

It is ethically wrong for an employer or company to choose the doctor that the injured worker receives initial and ongoing treatment from. Workers compensation laws allow an injured worker to be treated by whomever they want!

The only time a case manager or your employer can specify which doctor you see is if they arrange an Independent Medical Examination (IME) for you.

Also remember that a case-manager or employer (e.g a return to work coordinator) and even a rehabber is not allowed to sit in during any consultations with a doctor, whether or not you are seeing the doctor for treatment or an IME.

As such, you should never sign a document (i.e. consent) allowing a case manager or employer to sit in with you on consultations, or speak directly with your doctor without you being present.

Unfortunately many other employers treat injured workers as a liability, and they want to do whatever is possible to protect their own interests rather than the injured worker’s interest. That is why some employers try to manipulate injured workers into seeing company doctors; so the employer can control how the $$$ claim progresses.

Many of these ‘company doctors’ are paid for directly by the employer, and, of course, this often establishes a conflict of interest. All too often, these company doctors are looking out for the interests of the employer rather than the interest of the injured worker (who actually becomes their patient).

If you ever feel uncomfortable with the treatment or advice you are receiving from a particular doctor, make sure you stop seeing that doctor, and start consulting with another.

Always remember that as an injured worker:

  • You do not need to accept treatment from a company doctor
  • You have a choice to be treated by your doctor
  • You can change doctors if you are unhappy with the treatment you are receiving
  • You have the right to seek a second opinion if you disagree with a report or recommendations of a company doctor or any other doctor
  • Never ever perform duties that your doctor has restricted you from performing (even if your employer or case manager is pressuring you to perform these duties).
  • If you are concerned about the way your workers compensation matter is being handled, speak with your union or a lawyer immediately
  • Never sign a document (i.e. consent form) without first seeking legal advice
  • Most decisions of your case manager / employer can be disputed. do not simply accept decisions if you disagree or if you do not understand the decision or its consequences!

One Response to “Injured workers treating doctor and your rights”

  1. Good article thanks. I along with probably 99.9% of every other Worker Comp victims have experienced the disgraceful bias from hired gun insurance doctors.
    There is another thing to consider here. I saw a neck specialist (surgeon) in respect to a cervical spine issue related to my claim. My GP had referred me to this person and I had an X-Ray with a report indicating a joint issue. From the outset the specialist hinted he deals with insurance companies and dismissed my x-ray and report which he did not want to read. He basically said there was nothing wrong with me with minimal examination.
    I realised that my GP had inadvertently referred me to a hired gun specialist whose allegiance was clearly with the insurance companies – despite him not being referred by my insurer. So although he was getting paid by me and Medicare, he did not do a proper examination and investigation into my injury.
    I got the feeling that he was afraid of compromising himself when he likely gets a lot of work from insurers. He knew my injury was worker’s comp. He was in fact the second specialist I was referred to because the initial referral revealed that the specialist did not accept workers comp related matters as relayed to me by the very rude receptionist.
    I was devastated but will probably try again with a different specialist who will do a professional proper examination and who is not on an insurance company’s/ies payroll.
    This article has really helped. Thanks heaps.

read-before-u-commentThis is a statement pointing you to our seriously injured but esteemed and honourable Social Networking Sites Warning and our comment policy. A must read in the context of a very adversarial workcover system! Remember to mention in which state you reside if you seek advice.

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