Just the other day, an injured worker called us, complaining that their employer refused to send them to a “workers’ compensation doctor.” It seems that there is more confusion in this area than in many within the complicated world of Pennsylvania workers’ compensation.
While medical treatment for the work injury is one of the benefits available to an injured worker under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (Act), this is not necessarily treatment with a doctor with any connection to the employer or the employer’s workers’ comp insurance carrier. In fact, the ability to direct and control medical treatment is a BENEFIT to the employer, and a DETRIMENT to the injured worker. As such, this control is only available if an employer complies with specific steps.
Under the Act, an employer may only be responsible for payment to a medical provider on a “panel posting” within the first 90 days of treatment. Such a “panel posting” must be prominently displayed in the work place. To be a valid “panel posting,” the posting must contain at least six providers, at least three of which are physicians (the remainder could be therapy facilities or other healthcare providers who are not doctors). No more than four of the six on the posting may be from the same practice. The employer must have the injured worker sign an acknowledgement, both at the time of hire and as soon as practical after the injury, that the injured worker is aware of the panel posting. All of these requirements can be found in Section 306(f.1)(1)(i) of the Act.