Under New York workers' compensation law, injured workers are supposed to be able to choose their doctor if the doctor has the right Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) credentials and takes workers' comp insurance. This is not always as straightforward as it sounds, however.
Recently, an NBC New York I-Team investigation found that many doctors have stopped accepting workers' comp insurance. To make the problem worse, the state has not been keeping accurate records on which doctors participate in the program. This puts extra burden on injured workers to find a doctor who will care for them after a work injury.
The investigation included contacting 64 eye doctor specialists who were on the list of workers' comp health care providers. Two-thirds of the practices contacted said they do not accept workers' compensation insurance.
A New York WCB spokesperson claims that the state updates the roster of doctors who accept workers' comp insurance weekly. This, however, does not explain why such large numbers of them are not listed correctly.
Why is this important?
Work accidents can cause traumatic injuries that require the care of multiple physicians, including specialists. A person who suffers an amputation, for example, will need surgeries, physical and rehabilitative therapy, prostheses, pain management and counseling. If the participating doctor list is not up to date, finding the appropriate specialists will be difficult.
It's also critical that injured workers receive timely medical treatment. In many instances, such as traumatic brain injuries, the treatment options and prognosis are greatly affected by how soon the patient gets the right medical care.
What can you do?
If you or a family member has been injured on the job, speak with a workers' comp lawyer. You have a better chance of receiving the medical and wage benefits you need when you work with an attorney who knows the workers' comp system and fights for workers every day.