I caution all injured workers to look carefully at the physician progress report (PPR) they are handed at the end of each visit to their doctor assigned to treat their industrial injury. Most doctors and clinics that are on the various third-party administrators’ medical provider lists use the D-39 form approved by the DIR. Sometimes the clinic or doctor will use a form that looks different, but all PPR’s used by Nevada medical providers must show whether the doctor is taking the patient off work completely, or is giving work restrictions until the next scheduled appointment.
If the doctor does not hand you a PPR showing you what your work status is, ask for a copy before you leave the doctor’s office. It is important that you get a copy of the PPR so that you know for certain whether the doctor has released you to return to work, and if so, whether you have work restrictions. If the doctor’s assistant tells you that you don’t need a copy, and that they will fax a copy to your insurer and your employer, nicely explain that you are entitled to your own copy.
Unfortunately, there are a few doctors on the Nevada provider lists that take a cowardly and unprofessional approach to releasing workers’ compensation patients back to work. Instead of explaining to the patient that the doctor thinks it’s time to return the patient to work, or to any available light duty job, the doctor says nothing when in the examining room with the patient. If the patient doesn’t get a copy of the physician’s progress report, and the doctor didn’t discuss work release status, the patient only learns about what his doctor has done when he doesn’t get his next compensation check in the mail.
These doctors shirk their responsibility to their patients because they want to avoid an argument from the patient. The doctor may have good reason for changing the patient’s work status, and if so, the doctor should be willing to discuss the reason with the patient. Otherwise, It is extremely unfair and bad medical care not to inform the patient of his changed work status.
If this has happened to you, or you suspect that your doctor may not be up front with you later, be aware that you have an absolute right to change physicians within the first 90 days of your claim. After 90 days you may still request it, but it will be harder if the insurer denies your request and you have to go to hearing. It is also very hard to change doctors after a doctor has just performed surgery on you. Just don’t ignore your gut feeling that your doctor is not concerned with your well-being and at least get a free legal consultation to discuss what you can do to protect yourself. Finally, please help other injured workers learn about their rights regarding choice of physicians by sharing this resource and the DIR’s website information.