Sunday, April 12, 2009


An employee is entitled to payment of medical, psychological, chiropractic, and other treatment for a work-related condition. Minn. Stat. §176.135. This includes any treatment which is reasonable and necessary to cure and relieve the effects of a work injury.

Almost without exception, the injured worker has the absolute right to choose his or her treating doctor for a work injury. The employee can change doctors within 60 days after medical treatment has commenced, without getting the permission of the employer, insurer, or other interested parties. Minn. Rule Part 5221.0430, Subpart 2. After 60 days, the employee can change primary doctors, but only with the permission of the employer and insurer, or by seeking approval of the court. The rule provides that the employee may not change primary doctors if:

(a) A significant reason for the request is to block reasonable treatment or to avoid returning to work;

(b) The change is to develop litigation strategy rather than to pursue appropriate diagnosis and treatment;

(c) The provider lacks the expertise to treat the employee for the injury;

(d) The travel distance to obtain treatment is an unnecessary expense and the same care is available at a more reasonable location;

(e) At the time of the employee's request, no further treatment is needed; or

(f) For another reason, the request is not in the best interest of the employee and the employer.

In other words, even if the employee's initial treatment is at an emergency room or at an occupational medicine clinic favored by the employer, the employee can change doctors within 60 days. Choosing a qualified physician is important. A general orthopedic surgeon may not be you physician of choice if you have a complex hand injury. There are specialties within specialties and attorney Thomas Atkinson with Minnesota Disability can help you sort through this complex system.