In Florida, the employer/carrier has the right to choose your doctor and control your medical treatment. However, there are two exceptions where the injured worker may have the opportunity to either treat with the physician(s) if its choice or control medical treatment.
- Right to select a one-time change in provider. The Florida Workers’ Compensation Act does afford the injured worker the right, once during the life of their case, to make a request for a one-time change in treating physicians. However, except in very unusual circumstances, the carrier retains the right to select the one-time change physician. Upon the receipt of a written request, the Carrier has 5 days to authorize the provider. If the carrier does not respond to the claimant’s request for a one-time change physician within five days, for the remainder of the claim, the claimant is permitted to select and treat with his or her own physician.
- If there is a disagreement in the medical opinions of the medical providers, the Judge must appoint an independent expert medical provider to decide which recommendation for treatment is appropriate. Therefore, if the injured worker has been seen by a physician (usually an expert called an independent medical provider) who disagrees with the recommendations of the treating provider, the Judge can find that the treatment by either physician is appropriate.
Given the fact that the injured worker has the right to a one-time change only once throughout the life of a case, it is important that this right be exercised only at an appropriate time in the case. It is usually not advisable for the injured worker to make such request early in the course of his or her treatment. This is because to do so would eliminate the right to make a one-time change at a more critical stage in the case, such as at the specialist level. It is very important to get the advice of a qualified workers compensation attorney prior to requesting a change in physician.
Once the injured worker requests a one-time change in treating physicians, the initial physician is immediately de-authorized (no longer permitted to provide treatment). The injured worker is then required to stay with the newly appointed physician for the remainder of his/her case, except in unusual circumstances unless that physician were to refer the claimant to another type of specialist. The only way to get a new physician would be if the claimant were to move to another area, or if the initial treating physician were to no longer accept workers’ compensation cases, or withdraw from providing treatment for some other reason. Otherwise, the claimant is required to remain with the one-time change physician for the life of his/her case.