Your right to choose your medical support extends well beyond your own doctor or rehabilitation provider.
It also includes your right to choose who does your medical tests (such as blood tests and MRIs) as well.
Recently we received a call from an injured worker whose medical specialist asked for an test before an appointment later on this year. The injured worker’s doctor put in the request to the insurer and the injured worker booked their regular medical testing service to conduct the test close to the appointment (which is what the specialist asked for).
Seems reasonable so far right? Then the insurer got involved, the next thing the injured worker knew is that another company specialising in insurance medical testing had made a booking for that injured worker.
There is more than one of these companies in NSW, they don't advertise to the normal patients (they don’t accept Medicare appointments) but advertise directly to insurers and others companies. Unfortunately there are some insurers and self-insurers that use them regularly.
This relationship is legal. The problem with the insurers using these companies is simply that the insurer then rules the roost once again. In this example the injured worker was not afforded the right to choose their own medical provider by the insurer, they weren't even sent a consent form for the insurers choice of MRI service, in fact when the insurer and company involved found out that the injured worker had made their own arrangement, they tried to “take over” the appointment.
The relationship between you and your medical team (including those doing the medical testing) should be paramount and your choices should always be respected. If another service is being offered, you should always have the right, and be told, that you have the choice to use someone you trust and know. Any medical referral should be made with your consent and knowledge. And every player in this industry should enforce this right, not try to take over or override your choice of medical service.
It might be that the insurer or others try to tell you that medical testing is not included in this right. Just to confirm it we asked Turner Freeman Workers compensation expert Richard Dababneh for a comment:
Workers in NSW are often misguided or ill informed when it comes to the intricacies of the workers compensation system in this State. The scheme is complex and in some parts convoluted. Insurers are quick to remind workers of their obligations but rarely go out of their way to advise workers of their rights.
Injured workers in this State have the right to choose their treatment providers. They have the right to choose their own GP, which specialist they consult and any other health professional they might need to see as part of the treatment of their work injury. It is a fundamental right often ignored by insurers and many workers often just accept whatever or whoever is forced on them by the big multinational insurance company or their employer.
Any worker who feels that they are being bullied by their employer, insurer or case manager should seek legal advice immediately. One of the remaining positives in the scheme is that a worker with a dispute is entitled to obtain legal advice at no cost to them.
Turner Freeman Lawyers.