Ohio workers often don’t realize an important fact: If you are injured at work, you are free to select a physician of your own choosing.
According to Ohio law, a worker who sustained an injury or contracted an occupational disease in the course of and arising out of employment shall have free choice to select a licensed physician for treatment, as well as to select medical, hospital and nursing service, regardless of whether or not the employer is self-insured. Your employer cannot tell you where to get treatment.
As a general rule, emergency or first-aid treatment shall not constitute an exercise of free choice of physician. Once a claimant goes to a private physician for treatment, the claimant is deemed to have made a choice of physician.
If the claimant wishes to later change physicians, authorization is freely granted by simply filing a form with the BWC. Where claimants feel the need of more expert or specialized medical care, they should ask their doctor to refer them to a specialist. Claimants may be referred for consultation without a change of the physician of record.
One of the dangers involved in workers’ choice of doctors is that injured workers will too often go to a general practitioner or family doctor for serious disabilities that in reality should be handled by a specialist. It is important to advise injured workers to select the very best medical care available in the community. While some family practitioners will not handle workers’ compensation cases, most doctors in the community will accept workers’ compensation cases.