What are the limitations on an injured employee’s right to select his own doctor? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

What are the limitations on an injured employee’s right to select his own doctor?

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Q. While at work, one of our employees suffered what we believed to be a minor back injury. We sent him to a clinic, which determined that he could perform light-duty work. We offered him a light-duty assignment. Now the employee has gone to his personal physician, who has excused him from all work. The employee’s physician also has billed us for his services, since this was a work-related injury. We do not know how to respond to these differing opinions or whether we are obligated to pay for the employee’s personal physician’s services.

A. The Michigan Workers’ Compensation Statute generally provides that an injured employee “may treat with a physician of his or her own choosing by giving to the employer the name of the physician and his or her intention to treat with the physician” after 10 days from the inception of medical care.

Thus, in response to your second question, if you provided medical care for your employee, and the employee without your knowledge or approval sought treatment from his own personal physician, you are not obligated to pay that bill.

Indeed, during the first 10 days, the employee did not have a right to employer-paid care other than the care you selected.

Note: If you had not provided medical care, for whatever reason, then the employee would have been entitled to reimbursement for treatment. As to the light-duty work issue, direct the employee to return to work. If he refuses, you have to make a decision. Do you want to go to termination, or do you want to provide an unpaid leave of absence while you gather more facts? My recommendation would be the latter, but you should consult your counsel.

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