A Worker’s Right to Choose Their Attending Physician

Under Washington law anyone injured in the course of his or her employment has a right to choose who will treat them. There are some employers, and sometimes situations in dealing with the Department of Labor and industries, where a particular treating source is recommended to the worker. Some employers will go as far as telling an injured worker/employee that they have to be treated or seen initially by one of their doctors. There are no such restrictions under Washington law, when dealing with an industrially related condition. An injured worker is free to choose who they would like to treat them.

Choosing Your Attending Physician

The only real limitation on who they may choose is whether or not that medical provider is on an approved list maintained by the Department of Labor and industries. Treating providers can include your personal physician. It can include a chiropractic physician. It can include a nurse practitioner. It can include a physician’s assistant. Thus, anyone whose name or title ends with MD, DO, ARNP, PAC can all be approved to treat you.

Applying for Approval

A physician who is not yet approved by the Department can apply to be approved. Treating sources outside the state of Washington will often need to apply for a provider number. The Department is quite liberal in allowing these out of state physicians to have a provider numbers.

Excluding Representation from Your Employer

There are also times when an employer will tell their injured worker that the company has a “nurse consultant” that must attend all of their medical appointments. An injured worker has the right to exclude any representative from the employer, including a “nurse consultant,” from their appointments with their doctor. While the employer can have their representative meet or discuss the case file with the doctor, this does not give the employer’s representative the right to sit in on the worker’s appointment. The inverse is true. The worker has a right to sit in on their meeting.

More Questions About Choosing Your Attending Physician?

If you have any questions about your rights to choose your own doctor, or to refuse to allow the employer representative to sit in on your medical appointments, you should contact an attorney immediately.