Category Archives: Doctor Choice

Talking points for injured workers who want to see their own doctor

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Talking points for employers looking to undermine rights of injured workers to pick their own doctor

I was sitting in a conference call when I screen captured the email that is the photo for this post.

The email came from an occupational medical clinic in Omaha. It used the occassion of an updated doctor choice form from the Nebraska Workers Compensation court to distribute talking points for management when injured workers balk, rightly, at being sent to an occupational medical clinic.

Injured workers have the right to pick their own doctor in Nebraska. But that doesn’t mean that the insurance industry and self-insured employers aren’t going to try to control medical care to their advantage. Insurance companies spend money on “nurse case managers” and self-insureds usually have in-house nurse case managers, who in my view, try to persuade doctors to write medical records and reports that are favorable to the employer. The use of occupational medicine or “occ, med,” clinics is another tactic used by emplyoers to get favorable outcomes for themselves in workers’ compensation claims.

These talking points overcoming employee objections to going to an occ, med. clinic are an example of how employers/insurers try to work around rules that allow injured workers to see theiir own doctors in Nebraska.

I am going to break down these talking points one by one.

1.“We want the best care for you.” If an employer wants the best care for their employees, it would stand to reason they would let the employee go to a doctor who has treated the employee previously and knows their medical history. Treatment would be more effective and efficient without having to re-invent the wheel with a new doctor.

A lot of injured workers end up at occupational health clinics because they don’t have a family doctor because they don’t have health insurance. If a company doesn’t offer affordable health insurance, I would question whether the company really wants what is best for their employees.

2. See you right away – If the injury is acute, an employee will be sent to the emergency room rather than an occupational medical clinic that is more or less an urgent care clinic. While there can be delays in getting to see a family doctor, many family doctors or general practitioners will hold back appointments for urgent cases like work injuries. Injured workers need to be assertive with medical office staff in insisting that they be seen that day.

Of course, this point is moot if an employee doesn’t have their own doctor. See the previous paragraph. That’s why I support the initiative to expand Medicaid in Nebraska.

3.You don’t have to pay if you go to an occ. med. clinic – Under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee doesn’t have to pay out of pocket for medical care – period – it doesn’t matter who they see. There is an element of truth that some doctors don’t accept workers’ compensation insurance. But if the case requires a referral to surgeon, that surgeon will almost certainly accept workers’ compensation insurance.

By the way, if an employee does get stuck at an occ, med. clinic and they get a referral for a surgery, they can pick their own surgeon even if the employee agreed to let the employer pick the doctor at first.

4. You have to go to this clinic to get drug tested clinic anyway – This isn’t so much a talking point as it is an assertion of power by an employer. It’s a thinly veiled threat that if the employee doesn’t go to the cliinic the employer wants, then they are going to be in trouble. The use of occupational health clinics to perform mandatory post-injury drug testing is a way from employers to cleverly work around Nebraska law on doctor choice under the cover of state and federal law about drug testing. Employee drug testing is as much about employers asserting control over employees as it as about employee safety.

OSHA regulations have recently been revised to allow employers more clarity — or latitude — to drug test emplyoees after a work injury. I will post on this in the near future, but take a look at this post for now,

In short, some employers are going to do their worst to cajole and coerce injured workers into undermining their workers’ compensation case by not letting employees pick their own doctors. Employees in such a situation ought to call a lawyer to get advice and help with their workers’ compensation case.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Doctor Choice, Medicaid, Nebraska, nurse case managers, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , , , .

Workers’ Compensation Basics: Understanding the Injured Worker’s Right to Medical Care

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choose-a-family-doctorHere’s the next installment in the series that looks at the basics of workers’ compensation.

Under the Nebraska workers’ compensation laws, you may have the right to choose a family doctor to treat you for your work-related injury.

You may choose a doctor who has treated you or an immediate family member before this injury happened.

Immediate family members are your spouse, children, parents, stepchildren and stepparents. The doctor you choose must have records to show that past treatment was provided.

If you want to choose your doctor, you must tell your employer the name of the doctor you choose.  You need to do this as soon as is practical after the accident or as soon as your employer gives you the notice of the right to choose your family physician to treat you for your work injury form.

If you are in need of immediate medical attention and or emergency medical care, you have the right to obtain care immediately.

If you, or your family, do not have a family physician, then your employer has the right to choose the doctor to treat you.

However, if your workers’ compensation claim is denied for any reason, you have the right to choose any doctor to treat you for your injury.

Any time you are faced with a major surgery recommendation for your injury, you have the right to choose the surgeon to do the surgery.  You can choose any surgeon.

If you have any questions about your medical rights please feel free to contact us.

Read the previous blog posts in the workers’ compensation basics series by clicking on these links:

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Doctor, Doctor Choice, Nebraska, Workers' Comp Basics, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , , .

Are Medical Doctors Willing Puppets for Cross-examination?

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It used to be that the most to fear from an examination scheduled by an insurance company would be an unfair or incomplete assessment of the work injury. Now it seems insurance companies are using doctors to essentially cross-examine injured workers and delve deeply into irrelevant issues in an attempt to embarrass, harass and probe where they do not belong.

 

-Do you have painful, frequent, or difficulty urinating?

-Do you have painful breasts, periods or intercourse?

-Have you suffered physical, sexual or emotional abuse?

-Do you have erectile difficulty?

-Do you get along with supervisors and other employees?

-Do physical or mental problems run in your family?

-Is anyone in your family disabled?

-Did you smoke, drink or use illegal drugs in the past?

 

These are some of the more disturbing questions asked by a doctor of a patient in a pre-exam questionnaire sent directly from the doctor’s office to the injured worker. You might surmise that this was a case of some sort of reproductive injury associated with mental duress of some type by looking at the questions. In fact, this worker only alleged carpal tunnel syndrome! Most assuredly, embarrassing facts about this worker would just happen to show up in the defense doctor’s final report for the Court’s review at trial.

 

Any time anyone other than your lawyer sends you something to complete, you should be very careful about filling it out. It’s probably unethical for doctors to send these reports to injured workers who are represented, but we’re seeing more and more of these go out. They are becoming more and more intrusive; in fact, this questionnaire was 11 pages long. It’s my practice not to have clients complete any of these pre-exam questionnaires from doctors.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Doctor, Doctor Choice, doctors and medical and tagged , .

In Nebraska, Who Chooses My Surgeon?

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If you are involved in a workers’ compensation situation, it is essential to know your rights, as they vary from state to state. Attorneys at Rehm, Bennett & Moore are licensed in both Nebraska and Iowa, and the workers’ compensations systems are very different between the two states. This video addresses what happens in Nebraska if a person needs surgery.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Doctor, Doctor Choice, Workers' Comp Q & A, Workers' Comp' Basics, Workers' Compensation and tagged , .

What if an Independent Medical Examination Doctor Doesn’t Agree with My Doctor?

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IME doctorAs I have written previously,  in Nebraska, you have the right to choose your family doctor to treat you for your work injury.  For purposes of the workers’ compensation court, that person becomes your “treating doctor.”  However, sometimes an employer or insurance provider selects a non-treating doctor for an “independent medical examination” (IME). According to the workers’ group National Association of Injured & Disabled Workers (NAIDW), IMEs are used for three reasons:

  1. “to determine the cause, extent and medical treatment of a work-related or other injury where liability is at issue”
  2. “whether an individual has reached maximum benefit from treatment”
  3. “whether any permanent impairment remains after treatment”

When an IME is scheduled, this probably means your employer or the insurance company is trying to fight some aspect of your workers’ compensation benefits.  An IME doctor frequently bases his or her findings on what is often a very brief visit with a patient.  Sometimes they don’t even perform a physical examination before rendering their opinion.  Rarely do they issue opinions that are favorable to an injured worker.  For that reason, when an examination like this is scheduled, my policy is to Continue reading

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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The 12 Things You Must Do If You are Hurt at Work

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Today’s post is by our colleague Paul J. McAndrew of Iowa. While almost all of his advice applies to both Iowa and Nebraska, in Nebraska, unlike Iowa, you can choose your doctor. In Iowa you must see a “Company Doctor.” Regardless of what state you are from, you should not hesitate to consult with a lawyer if you were hurt at work and have questions or concerns.

 

Not seeing a doctor chosen by your employer could negatively affect the validity of your work injury compensation claim.

Injured workers call me all the time asking me what they need to do to make sure they protect their legal rights.  If you are hurt on the job, whether it is due to an acute traumatic injury (like cutting yourself on a saw), cumulative-trauma injury (like carpal-tunnel syndrome) or some other job-related injury, there are several basic things you should do. If you do not do any of the things on the list below, you may lose your rights under Iowa’s workers’ compensation law.

Although there may be rare exceptions to this list,  following it will leave you reasonably secure that your rights are protected:

  1. Report the injury. By “injury,” I mean almost any condition including but not limited to (a) an acute traumatic injury, (b) a cumulative-trauma injury, or (c) a disease or a hearing loss. You should report the injury to your supervisor or company nurse (for clarity we’ll just call these people your Supervisor from here on out), making clear your injury was caused by work. Under Iowa law, you need to make the report within 90 days of the date of your injury.
  2. Make sure your Supervisor prepares a company accident report.  If your Supervisor won’t prepare the report, then you should write a letter stating the facts of your injury and give a copy of the letter to the Supervisor. Keep a record of when you gave the letter to your Supervior. If you can get him/her to sign a receipt for having received it, that’s even better.
  3. Get a copy of the accident report and keep it in a safe place. If you prepare a letter, keep a copy of it.
  4. If you are part of a collective bargaining unit you should (a) join the union if you are not already a member and (b) tell your steward that you were injured and that you reported your injury to your Supervisor.
  5. Keep notes of all significant contacts you have with anyone (including but not limited to supervisors, insurance company representatives and doctors) concerning your work injury.
  6. Under Iowa law you must and should get medical care through the doctor selected by your employer (we’ll call this person the Company Doctor). Don’t get frustrated if you are denied care. Keep demanding proper care through the Company Doctor. If you go to your own doctor, you can make it look like you believe your injury was not caused by work. Also, under Iowa law your employer may not be required to pay for care you get from a doctor you choose.
  7. Tell the Company Doctor clearly and in great detail how your work caused your injury. If you do not think that the Company Doctor is caring for you properly or has not taken careful notes on how your work caused your injury, then give the doctor a written statement of how your work caused you injury and keep a copy of that statement.
  8. Follow all medical directions. If you don’t, your employer may argue that you chose not to get proper care and purposely stayed sick so you did not have to go back to work.
  9. If the doctor recommends you not do certain things at work, get the doctor to write that down and get at least 2 copies, one for the Supervisor and one for you to carry at work.
  10. Make sure that the doctor sends all bills to your employer for payment.
  11. If your employer and/or insurance company denies your medical care or the Company Doctor does not provide effective care, you have a right to seek effective medical care.  You do this by first demanding the employer and/or insurance company provide effective care to you.  If you are denied, you then need to file an “Alternate Care Petition” seeking an order from the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner that you be provided the effective care.  You can get a copy of the Petition at: http://www.iowaworkforce.org/wc/forms/14-0011altcarefillable.pdf. You should consult a lawyer if you are denied proper and effective medical care for a work injury.
  12. If you miss work because of a work injury, your employer may have a right to a 3-day “waiting period” before starting to pay you money benefits.  If your employer does not start to pay you after 3 days have passed, you should demand payment. If you are denied payment of money benefits for time missed from work because of a work injury you should consult a lawyer. You have a right to be paid money benefits in a timely manner – which means on the same day each week.  If that does not happen, you may have a right to a “penalty” benefit payment equaling up to 150% of the money benefits owed and not timely paid.

 

 

Image: Maggie Smith / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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The Ugly Truth About Company Nurses

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Your doctor can provide better treatment than the company nurse.

Employers and insurance carriers can lower their workers’ compensation costs by the thousands by taking control of an injured workers’ care from the onset of injury. This is why employers often provide nurse case managers to monitor claims. However nurse case managers can also be expensive. That is why some employers are turning to an even cheaper alternative: nursing triage services on company premises or at nearby clinics.

The reality is that these nursing services are just another way to keep costs down, by reducing the likelihood that workers will seek the care of real physicians.

Nursing triage services, or company nurses as they are often called, are presented to workers as a benefit. They are presented as knowledgeable and experienced in treating workplace injuries, and it may seem as though they are there simply to provide solid medical care. The reality is that these nursing services are just another way to keep costs down, by reducing the likelihood that workers will seek the care of real physicians.

Company nurses simply do not deliver what injured workers are entitled to Continue reading

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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I want to go to my family doctor, but my employer tells me I can’t.

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Your family physician may be the best person to treat you for a work related injury.

Generally in Nebraska, if you’re injured at work, you have a right to go to your family doctor so long as that doctor has treated you or an immediate family member and has records of that treatment. See Neb. Rev. Stat Section 48-120(2)(a).

Furthermore, you may be able to treat with any doctor (not just your family doctor) if your employer doesn’t provide you with a “Choice of Physician Form” (also known as a Form 50—click to see here), or if your employer denies your work comp claim.

It’s most likely that no doctor knows your health better than your own family doctor.

What many employers will attempt to do, however, is have you sign a “Choice of Physician Form” and tell you that in order for work comp to pay, you have to write on the form that you choose to treat with one of their doctors (i.e. a doctor that has your employer’s best interest in mind and probably not yours) rather than your family doctor.

Other times, your employer may give you a Continue reading

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Doctor, Doctor Choice, Workers' Compensation and tagged .