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How does predesignation let me choose my own doctor?

On Behalf of | Nov 1, 2023 | Workers' Compensation

Your medical care is likely a sensitive subject for you. Many people want to entrust their treatment only to their regular treating doctor. However, if you get injured while on the job, you may look at your employer-provided list of doctors only to find that there is no one listed that you know.

Under California’s workers’ compensation system, an employer must create a medical provider network that lists six different care providers, or designate a healthcare organization that offers physicians to treat work injuries. However, you could exercise greater control over your treatment by predesignating your doctor to treat you.

The definition of predesignation

Predesignation means choosing your doctor in advance before you have a work injury. This means that if you are ever hurt at work, you can receive medical attention from a physician you know and trust. Your predesignated doctor becomes your treating physician and coordinates your medical care going forward, and you can receive workers’ comp coverage for your medical bills.

How to predesignate a doctor

Predesignating your doctor is a straightforward process. First, choose a doctor you want to treat you if you sustain a work injury. The doctor must be your regular physician and surgeon. Contact your doctor in advance to make sure he or she knows of your predesignation.

Notify your employer in writing that you have predesignated your doctor. Your employer may provide you with a predesignation form. You can also find this form on the Division of Workers’ Compensation website. Include the name, address, and phone number of the physician. Sign and date the written predesignation notice. Give it to your employer to put in your personnel file.

When you cannot predesignate

Be aware that there are limits to predesignation. For instance, under California law, you cannot predesignate a personal chiropractor or acupuncturist. However, you can submit the name of one of these providers to your employer in writing and receive treatment from your specialist after visiting the claims adjuster.

Whatever you do in picking a doctor in advance, keep a copy of your documents for your protection in case your employer disputes your choice of doctor or the insurer for your workplace does not approve your claim.