Many individuals who sustain occupational illnesses or injuries may require workers’ compensation benefits. Coverage provides medical coverage when people develop work-acquired medical issues that require treatment and also disability benefits for when injured or sickened workers require time away from their jobs.
Workers often feel like they are at the mercy of the doctor overseeing their treatment. The physician who manages their care determines what kind of work accommodations they need and when they can get back to work. The physician’s reports can even determine how much a worker will receive in disability benefits if they have lasting symptoms.
Sometimes, workers have questions about the treatment plans that physicians recommend. Especially when they need to undergo surgery or other potentially invasive medical treatments, the worker might prefer pursuing an alternative treatment rather than the care suggested by the doctor. Can someone receiving workers’ compensation get a second opinion without risking becoming medically non-compliant in the eyes of workers’ comp claims adjusters and investigators?
Yes, patients usually have the right to a second opinion
Whenever a physician recommends potentially invasive medical care, the patients questioning those recommendations have rights. They could ask for a second opinion and could then use the recommendations of a different physician to raise questions about their current treatment plan.
There are special rules that apply to second opinions for those receiving workers’ compensation coverage. In most cases, workers seeking a second opinion will need to pay for that evaluation on their own. However, if their employer is the one questioning whether a surgical procedure is necessary, then the company may cover the cost of having a different physician review their condition.
Injured workers with questions must protect themselves
The state won’t force someone to undergo surgery during a workers’ compensation claim, but the rules and laws already in place could potentially eliminate someone’s ongoing workers’ compensation benefits if they don’t follow through with the treatment plan recommended by their physician.
Securing a credible second opinion can sometimes be an important part of managing a contested or complex workers’ compensation claim in Minnesota. Discussing reservations about surgery and other workers’ compensation concerns with an experienced legal professional can help injured workers make informed decisions about their options.