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Your Workers' Compensation Medical Connection

by Layla Bryant

If you've had to seek medical treatment as a result of a work-related accident or illness, you may qualify for workers' compensation benefits. You've never been charged for the premiums for this form of insurance, but coverage has been provided since day one on the job. Workers' compensation will pay for your medical expenses if you are hurt because of work. Medical treatment directs nearly every aspect of workers' compensation benefits and is crucial to your future. This care won't be the same as what you might have been accustomed to in your private life, so read on and be informed.

Where To Begin

If your injury is an emergency, go to the closest and most-convenient emergency room. If your injury can wait, make an appointment with your usual primary care doctor or specialist. In most cases, the insurer will guide you towards who to use for any follow-up care. The way things work varies by state – in some, you can continue to use your own doctors and in some, you have to use an assigned doctor. What is most important is that you seek medical care for your initial complaint, no matter where.

Get on the Right Track

While you can use your own healthcare insurance to pay for your care, that is not how workers' comp works. It's important to let everyone from the receptionist at the front desk to the doctor know that this is a work-related injury and is to be filed under workers' compensation. You should not have to pay any money from your own pockets for medical care, medications, surgeries, physical therapy, or anything else for treatment. While being cared for, be sure to let the doctor know exactly how the injury affects your ability to work at your job. For example, point to specific job duties that you cannot perform. Doing so helps the doctor form an idea of how much time off you need.

Know How to Communicate

It's always a good idea to use good communication skills when speaking to medical personnel. Whether it's your first appointment or your third visit, be very clear about how the work-related injury or illness is affecting your everyday life. There is no need to exaggerate but doctors are not mind-readers either. Avoid emotional statements and be factual about your pain level, what makes it worse, how often you are in pain, etc. Describe things using words like stiffness, tingling, sharp, throbbing, etc, rather than "it's hurting me all the time" or "doc, I'm in so much pain".

Know When to Seek Help

You may need more than just medical help. Some hurt workers have problems with the workers' compensation insurer. If you don't agree with your course of treatment, your claims are being denied, or you have been ordered to return to work too soon, speak to a workers' compensation lawyer right away.