As previously discussed, the physician of record (POR) is an important part of any workers’ compensation claim. The POR has the ability to request treatment to improve or maintain a claimant’s allowed conditions in the claim. The POR can also request referrals to more specialized care (e.g., pain management, surgery consultations, etc.). In addition, the POR can also generate reports that are used to seek lost wages when a claimant cannot return to his or her former position of employment on account of the allowed conditions in the claim.
Given the multitude of functions the POR performs, the selection of the POR is an important step in the claim. However, situations may arise where there is a need or desire to switch the POR to another provider.
In some situations, the need to switch to another POR is outside the claimant’s control. Doctors can retire or relocate outside claimant’s locale. In these situations, the POR may be able to recommend another doctor in the same practice or in the same area who may be able to take over the POR responsibilities. In other situations, it may be necessary for the claimant to seek out a new POR on his or her own. The Bainbridge Firm can assist in these endeavors and work with the claimant to find a new POR who may be able to assist the claimant.
In most situations, having continuity of care is quite desirable. Establishing and keeping a POR allows the claimant to receive care from a provider who knows the claimant’s history. The POR who sees the claimant on a regular basis can closely monitor treatment plans and make adjustments as needed to better serve the claimant. On occasion, however, claimants may question whether he or she would be better suited by switching to a different POR for various reasons. This is not a decision to be taken lightly. Changing a physician of record can potentially disrupt the continuity of care for the claimant. If this process of changing PORs occurs numerous times in a relatively short period of time, it can potentially have a negative impact on a workers’ compensation claim. As is the case with many workers’ compensation issues, this is a case by case situation that must be explored carefully.