"Establishing the Perfect Physicians Panel"
Thea Nanton-Persaud authored an article in the Spring 2020 issue of Workplace Health magazine breaking down the essential components of creating the perfect panel of physicians.
Nanton-Persaud emphasizes that employers and insurers must carefully develop their panels as the right panel can be the difference between a routine claim and one with uncontrollable medical expenses. If a panel is invalid, the employee can freely select a physician, which may lead to excessive, expensive medical treatment that is almost impossible to control, absent an order from the State Board of Workers' Compensation.
A valid panel must include:
- At least six physicians reasonably accessible to the employee;
- at least one physician who is an orthopedic surgeon;
- no more than two industrial clinics; and
- one minority physician.
To offer the employee expanded treatment options and avoid having the panel invalidated if a doctor moved or refused treatment, it is recommended to have more than six physicians listed.
"Carefully select the doctors on your panel to ensure they are relatively conservative in their treatment recommendations and understand the unique nature of workers’ compensation claims," said Nanton-Persaud. "Panel physicians who provide timely medical reports and work status notes are extremely beneficial. Doctors willing to communicate freely with the employer/insurer and/or their attorneys are also important."
Regarding notice requirements, employers/insurers must comply the following:
- The panel must be posted in prominent places upon the business premises.
- The employer must take reasonable measures to:
- ensure employees understand the panel’s function and the right to select a physician; and
- provide appropriate assistance in contacting panel members when necessary.
Finally, employers should explain the panel of physicians to new employees at the time of hire and have them sign documentation acknowledging they understand the process. Even if not done during orientation, once an injury is reported, employees should be provided with a copy of the panel and sign a form acknowledging their choice of doctors.
For the full article, please click here.