Do injured workers have the right to question treatment plans?

On Behalf of | Oct 6, 2023 | Workers' Compensation |

Workers in just about any profession could get hurt on the job. They could also eventually acquire a job-related health condition, like a repetitive stress disorder. Those who are employees and not independent contractors typically have some coverage through workers’ compensation. Minnesota requires coverage for employees regardless of how long they have been on the job or how many hours per week they work. Even those in seemingly low-risk professions, like baristas and grocery store cashiers, can file a workers’ compensation claim if they get hurt on the job.

The benefits someone receives will include healthcare coverage and any disability benefits that they qualify for. A physician will usually help coordinate and oversee the treatment of a worker with a job-acquired health condition. Sometimes, the employee in need of benefits will disagree with their doctor about their treatment. Do they have any rights if they don’t want to abide by a suggested treatment plan?

Some workers can challenge proposed treatment plans

There is one scenario in particular in which the Minnesota workers’ compensation program specifically provides the right for either the worker or their employer to ask for a second opinion. If the doctor overseeing someone’s treatment recommends surgical intervention, either the employer or the worker can ask to have a different physician review the situation.

Surgery is both very expensive and very invasive, and workers generally have the right to explore other options before acquiescing to a suggestion for surgery. Employers may be worried about the cost and the long recovery required. However, a surgery recommendation is one of the only scenarios in which an employee has the automatic right to coverage for a second opinion.

If they disagree with the recommendation for physical therapy or a prescription for a certain medication, for example, they might need to pay for a second opinion with their own resources. However, doing so might be worthwhile, as they can then challenge the proposed treatment plan and possibly obtain a better outcome in the long run.

Workers who simply choose to ignore a doctor’s proposed treatment plan might put themselves in a very dangerous position. They might lose benefits later because their failure to comply with medical instructions impacted the severity of their condition or its duration. Thankfully, knowing when to seek a second opinion might help a Minnesota worker with a job-acquired health condition receive the most effective and least invasive treatment possible given their diagnosis.

FindLaw Network