An injured worker is entitled to one change of physician in the Alaska Workers Compensation Act. AS 23.30.095(a). The policy behind allowing only one change of physician is to prevent "doctor shopping." However, the following changes are not considered changes in physician:
- Referral by one doctor to another doctor,
- Written consent by the insurance company to a change in physician,
- All the doctors in the same clinic,
- Hospital treatment or emergency care facility treatment,
- Physicians selected by the employer, or insurer,
- When the employee moves more than 50 miles from his/her doctor,
- When the attending physician dies or moves more than 50 miles away,
- If the attending physician refuses to treat the injured worker,
- If the injured worker requests the employer or insurer in writing to consent to change of physician and the employer or insurer do not respond in writing within 14 days of the request.
AS 23.30.095(a), 8 AAC 45.082(b),(c).
Of course, an injured worker can obtain treatment anywhere and from anyone he or she chooses however if s/he makes an excessive change of physician under the Alaska Workers Compensation Act, then under the current regulations, the reports of the subsequent physicians will not be admissible in a hearing and the insurer will not be ordered to pay the subsequent physicians even if the employee wins. 8 AAC 45.082(c). Whether this regulation is constitutional has not been litigated.
Keenan Powell has practiced Workers Compensation law in the State of Alaska for over 30 years and has dedicated her practice to Workers Compensation representing injured Alaskans. www.keenanpowell.com.
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