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Authority of Employee's Physicians to Control Treatment

Charles Wilson sustained an on-the-job back injury while working for Imerys USA. He requested a panel for orthopaedist after becoming dissatisfied with his treating physician. The plaintiff selected Dr. Dewey Jones who treated the plaintiff between January 2007 and April 5, 2007, at which time Dr. Jones placed the plaintiff at maximum medical improvement. Thereafter, Mr. Wilson was referred to Dr. Mark Downey for pain management. Dr. Downey treated Mr. Wilson for the next eight months and then referred Wilson to the Doleys Clinic where he began treatment with Dr. Thomas Ryder. After almost a year of pain management treatment at the Doleys Clinic, Dr. Ryder requested that Mr. Wilson be referred to Dr. Andrew Cordover, an orthopaedist, for a surgical evaluation.

 

Mr. Wilson was denied authorization from the employer to be evaluated by Dr. Cordover. Instead, Imerys USA scheduled an appointment for Mr. Wilson with Dr. Dewey Jones. Mr. Wilson refused to go see Dr. Jones and Imerys USA moved to compel the plaintiff to do so. Thereafter, Wilson petitioned the court to approve his treatment with Dr. Cordover, which was granted by the trial court. Imerys USA appealed the decision and argued to the Appellate Court that only the authorized treating physician had authority to refer the employee to another medical provider.

 

Imerys USA argued that Ala. Code ' 25-5-1 gives an employer the right to select an injured employee's physician in the first instance. Should the employee become dissatisfied with the selection, the employee may request a panel of physicians for which the plaintiff may choose a new treating physician. An authorized treating physician has the power to refer an employee to another physician for medical treatment. This referral does not give the subsequent authorized treating physician the right to control all aspects of the employee=s treatment. Therefore, Dr. Dewey Jones did not transfer his authority as the authorized treating physician to Dr. Mark Downey or Dr. Thomas Ryder. Dr. Jones remains Wilson=s original authorized treating physician. As such, Wilson's treatment remains under the direction and control of Dr. Jones.


Contributing Author:

David T. Gordon
David T. Gordon
Email Address dgordon@friedman-lawyers.com
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Direct Line 205-278-7024

 

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