Who Can Provide Worker’s Comp Medical Treatment?

Medical treatment expense now eclipses indemnity benefits paid in Wisconsin for worker’s compensation. The employer must supply medical treatment reasonably required to cure and relieve from the effects of the injury.

Treatment can be medical, surgical, chiropractic, psychological, pediatric, or dental and includes hospital treatment, medical and surgical supplies, crutches, and artificial members and appliances.

…Wisconsin employees have their choice of treating practitioners…

Unlike some states where the employees must obtain treatment from a panel of physicians, Wisconsin employees have their choice of treating practitioners (except in genuine “emergency” situations where the employer can choose). Ohio, for example, just announced it has expanded the list of providers who can treat injured workers and strengthen certification requirements for those providers.

Ohio’s Bureau of Worker’s Compensation expanded health care professionals to include adult day care facilities, anesthesiology assistants, independent diagnostic testing facilities, and sleep laboratories.

While in Wisconsin, the employee has a great deal of freedom of choice in selecting a treating practitioner, some limits apply. Practitioners must be licensed to practice in Wisconsin. Out-of-State treatment is compensable if it is on a referral by a Wisconsin practitioner or with the employer’s consent. The employee is limited to two choices of practitioners except by agreement with the employer. The injured employee can choose any physician, chiropractor, psychologist, dentist, podiatrist, physicians assistant, or nurse practitioner in Wisconsin. There are a number of mental health professionals not recognized, such as social workers, marriage and family therapists, and professional counselors. Psychiatrists and licensed psychologists are the only mental health professionals who may be selected as a treating practitioner in Wisconsin. For eye care, Ophthalmologists are included, while optometrists are not. Dentists are included but dentist reports cannot be used regarding the cause or the extent of the disability (that is,,Permanent Partial Disability). Physicians Assistants and Advanced Practice Nurse Prescribers are practitioners who can provide reports on diagnosis and necessary treatment, but not on the cause and extent of disability.

Some other health care professionals not included in the listing of treating practitioners are licensed physical therapists (these expenses will be payable, however, if connected to a physician’s opinion as to the necessity related to the injury).