When you’re injured at work, you have a right to seek emergency care immediately – without regard to any particular rules. Your health has to come first, above all.
Once the emergency has passed or if you can wait to see a physician for a few days, however, you need to understand the rules for obtaining treatment under the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system.
You will likely have limited choices for the first 90 days
Generally speaking, injured PA workers enjoy more liberty to choose their own physician than workers in some other states – with some limitations.
For the first 90 days of your care, you may have to choose your workers’ comp doctor from a list of medical providers provided by your employer, but only if the following things are true:
- Your employer notified you in writing that you must use their panel of doctors for workers’ comp claims and you acknowledged that in writing.
- Your employer posted a list in a visible location of their designated medical professionals with at least six options.
- Your employer accepts your workers’ compensation claim.
If those things are not true. you may seek medical care with anyone you see fit, including your regular primary care physician, but you may be responsible for the bill. After 90 days, you can change to any doctor you prefer. One other exception to this rule is when invasive surgery is recommended. In that situation, you can seek a second opinion from a doctor of your choosing, regardless of the 90-day period.
To be quite clear, your employer probably hasn’t chosen doctors that they feel are terribly sympathetic to injured workers – but they cannot force you to see a specific provider. If your employer tries to steer you in a specific direction, it would be wise to view that action with suspicion.
A workplace injury can come out of nowhere. If it happens to you, it helps to know what you need to do and what rights you have so that you can protect your future interests.