Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, as amended by Act 57, an injured employee must treat with panel providers for the first 90 days following the injury. In order for the employer to require an injured worker to treat with doctors from the listed panel, an employer must disclose very specific information to the employee regarding the employee’s rights and duties. This must be done in writing. Further, the employer must attempt to obtain a written confirmation that the information has been provided to the employee. If the employer fails to comply with these requirements, the injured worker is not required to treat with the doctors on the panel list.
Certain questions should be considered before concluding that the employee is required to treat with the panel provider. For example:
- Has the employer ever explained your rights and duties under the Workers’ Compensation Act for the receipt of medical treatment?
- If so, did they ask you to sign a written verification that this information had been provided to you?
- Is your employer allowing you to choose which of the providers on the list you want to treat with, or are they requiring you to treat with one of the providers chosen by them?
- If the information regarding the rights and duties was provided to you, and you signed an acknowledgment to that effect, was the information consistent with the requirements for employer’s list of health care providers?
If the answer to any of the above questions is No, there is a very strong likelihood that the employee is able to treat with a healthcare provider of his or her own choosing for the first 90 days, rather than choosing off of the panel list. However, we strongly suggest that the employee consult with their legal counsel, or obtain legal counsel to discuss this issue if they have not already done so, before a final decision is made in that regard.