Last Friday, my work week ended on a familiar note. Trying to reassure injured workers who can’t find attending physicians (APs). In my opinion, we have a real problem in Washington State finding willing APs. Particularly for older L&I claims or for injured workers with multiple claims.
The law allows injured workers to designate an AP of their choosing. This is important since an injured worker needs to be comfortable enough with their AP to place full trust in that provider and their medical advice. Having multiple providers decline the AP role is upsetting for injured workers. When the Department of Labor and Industries starts sending letters directing them to designate an AP, the situation only gets worse.
Attorneys should not meddle in the patient physician relationship, so I don’t have a list of doctors in my hip pocket ready and willing to do my bidding. However, when a workers’ compensation claim is in jeopardy, I think it is my responsibility to write letters, forward medical records, and even meet with doctors to help my clients obtain APs. If the matter ends up in litigation, certainly the question will be asked about whether I had any hand in my client establishing care with a particular physician. After conversations like the ones I had today, there are simply no alternative but to do what is best for my client.