Picking the right doctor is probably the most important part of your Worker’s Compensation case in Georgia. The right doctor will not only help you get better. The doctor will advocate for you in your case and won’t let the adjustor push him/her around when it comes to returning you to work.
On the other hand, the wrong doctor won’t even treat you because before you even have a chance to get treatment, that doctor will tell the adjustor that your symptoms are all pre-existing or that if you had an injury it should have resolved by now and you’re back to your pre-injury baseline.
Insurance companies know that the doctor is the most important part of the case. That’s why the same doctors are on just about every panel of physicians in Georgia. These doctors all have reputations and it’s not for treating injured workers fairly. That said, even within the limited choices on a panel of physicians, some are better than others. The problem is you won’t know those reputations so you need to call a Georgia workers’ compensation attorney, but even then you need to be prepared. Below, I’ve provided a few pointers on how to help your attorney pick a doctor from the panel of physicians.
Take a Picture of the Panel
This seems easy enough, but you might be wondering where the panel is. Under O.C.G.A. 34-9-201( c) “the employer shall post the Panel of Physicians … in prominent places upon the business premises.” Most of the time it’s on that big poster board in the break room with all the other required notices like minimum wage laws. Below, I’ve copied a picture of a panel of physicians I spotted on an employer’s wall.
Notice, the panel above has zero doctors on it. Your panel of physicians probably won’t look like this, but I included this picture as an example of why you should take a picture of the panel of physicians. This panel of physicians is invalid. If your panel looks like this, you get to pick a doctor of your choice and the value of your case just went way up. However, insurance companies know this so they will often deny the panel was invalid and send me a panel they mysteriously discovered that has the worst doctors in Georgia on it. Even sometimes when the panel is valid, the adjustor will decide they don’t like that panel and send me a random panel with different doctors on it. That’s why I want a picture of the panel of physicians so I can call them out when they produce the newly discovered fake panel.
Is Concentra or Caduceus Okay?
I’m going to give you the most attorney answer ever – it depends. Concentra and Caduceus are basically worker’s compensation clinics. If you have a serious injury, you’ll eventually wind up somewhere else. I wouldn’t want to get serious treatment through one of these clinics, but if the other doctors on the panel are especially bad, sometimes Concentra and Caduceus are the best options. The reason for this is that once it becomes clear that your injury is more severe than they can handle in house, these clinics will make a referral to a specialist and sometimes you wind up at an orthopedic doctor who is better than the doctors on the panel. You could also wind up with someone worse, but sometimes the other doctors on the panel are so bad that it’s worth the risk. A Georgia Worker’s Compensation Attorney can tell you more about who is the best of the panel.
Is Peachtree Orthopedics or Resurgens better?
Many panels of physicians have Resurgens and Peachtree Orthopedics doctors on them. It might list specific doctors, the whole practice, or a specific location. You might wonder which one is better. Again, it depends on which doctor we’re talking about. All of the doctors at either of those clinics are capable physicians, but they all have different reputations on how they treat injured workers. Even within the same practices reputations differ greatly. I am not crazy enough to list my opinions of these doctors on my website, but I’ll privately share my opinion with you if you call.
What if I Picked the Wrong Doctor?
The good news here is that you are allowed a one time change on the panel of physicians. Again, you will want to call us so we can discuss your options. Sadly, you might be better off with the doctor currently treating you, but often there is someone better on the panel. Give us a call to help you pick someone new because you only get one free change.
What about an Independent Doctor?
For the most part you are stuck with a doctor on panel, but there are specific circumstances where you can get a one time independent medical evaluation with a doctor of your choice. I will discuss those circumstances in another article, but when in doubt call us and we can let you know if you are entitled to an independent medical evaluation. You can also occasionally get the Board to order a change to a doctor off the panel by filing a motion, but it’s getting more and more difficult to win these motions. That said, it’s sometimes worth a try, but likely not something you should attempt on your own.
I Like My Doctor but the Adjustor won’t Approve Anything
Your doctor orders physical therapy or an MRI, but the adjustor won’t return calls to approve anything. Does this sound familiar? This is a common problem but it’s beyond the scope of this article. If you want an answer to this question, please read this linked article.