Nebraska workers’ compensation law allows injured workers to pick their own doctor to treat their work injury. But what if an injured worker picks their doctor to treat their work injury, but gets treated by another doctor at their doctor’s clinic?
I believe Nebraska law would let an injured worker see another provider who practices with an injured worker’s doctor. But, not surprisingly, some nitpicking types on the employer/insurance side of workers compensation don’t think an injured worker should be able to treat with the partner of an injured worker’s family doctor.
Why you should be able to treat for a work injury with another doctor at the clinic where your doctor practices
Under Nebraska Workers Compensation Court Rule 50(A)(2) an injured worker can chose a family physician to treat for a work injury. Per Nebraska Workers Compensation Court Rule 49(E) a family physician is one who maintains records and has a documented history of treating the injured workers or a family member.
So when it comes to workers’ compensation doctor choice in Nebraska, home is where your medical chart is found. For example, if your provider is Dr. Smith at the Main Street Clinic, Dr. Smith’s partner, Dr. Jones, should be able to treat you for a work injury if Dr. Smith is unavailable. The key fact is that your medical records are that clinic, which would aid any provider in treating you for a work injury.
The importance of doctor choice in workers’ compensation
Most people would probably say its common sense that you should be able to treat with a doctor at the same clinic as your regular doctor if your regular doctor isn’t available. But there is a whole cottage industry of management-friendly medical providers that seek to talk workers out of exercising their rights to pick their own doctor to treat a work injury in Nebraska. I wrote a post a few years back, picking apart some talking points to that effect sent out by an occupational medicine clinic in Omaha.
But management-side talking points about why injured workers shouldn’t pick their own doctors to treat work injuries aren’t solely based on faulty logic and assumptions. Intimidation substitutes for persuasion when it comes to employers and insurers pushing injured employees to employee-friendly doctors and medical providers.
What if your doctor is really a P.A. or nurse practitioner?
Lots of people get their primary medical care from physician assistants or nurse practitioners. If those providers practice under the supervision of a medical doctor, then I think an injured worker should be able to pick those providers. After all, the employee’s medical records are at the office of that provider.
But a P.A. or Nurse practitioner might not be able to testify by report in a Nebraska workers’ compensation case without a supervising doctor signing off on the report. But in serious injuries, primary care providers refer out to specialists who are almost always able to testify by report. And secondly, there is a distinction between who can testify by a report a workers’ compensation case and who can treat a workers’ compensation claimant in Nebraska.