Medical Treatment Rights
By Joseph A. Conlan
If you’ve suffered an injury at work in Pennsylvania, you’re probably wondering when and where you can seek medical treatment. Choosing the right medical provider for your work injuries is an important step in pursuing a workers’ compensation claim. However, most people are unaware of their rights when it comes to medical treatment under the law.
According to the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, workers are required to treat for the first ninety (90) days after the occurrence of a work injury with medical providers that are designated by their employers. Simply put, the initial choice of a medical provider for your work injuries are usually controlled by your Employer.
However, the employer’s right to control your medical treatment is not unlimited and they must follow certain steps in order to maintain that control. First, your Employer must have obtained your written acknowledgment of the fact that you were notified of the requirement to treat with its panel providers for the first ninety (90) days of your work injury at the time of you were hired. Each employer in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is required to post their list of designated healthcare providers in a common area so that each employee is aware of the facilities that they are entitled to seek medical treatment after suffering a work injury.
Secondly, your Employer must also prove that it obtained your written acknowledgment to treatment with its panel providers for the first ninety (90) days of your injury at the time of your work injury. If the Employer follows these steps, then you are obligated to treat with one of its panel providers for the first ninety (90) days of your treatment or until the provider releases you from care.
If the Employer fails to properly follow these steps, they will remain liable for payment of your medical treatment even if you seek treatment with non-panel provided physicians for your work injuries. This allows you to seek medical treatment with your own set of doctors for your work injuries during the initial ninety (90) day period without worrying about who will pay for the medical treatment.
It is also important to be aware that if an injured worker continues to need medical treatment after the initial ninety (90) days, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act allows you to seek medical treatment for your work injuries with any provider/physician that you choose. It is important that workers who need continued care seek treatment with a physician who will meet their needs instead of those of their employers and the law allows for that after the initial ninety (90) day period.