How to Prepare for Your First Workers' Compensation Visit

Jan 19, 2023

How to Prepare for Your First Workers' Compensation Visit

Workers’ compensation in Tennessee operates under a medical panel system. Understanding your rights and knowing how to prepare for your first doctor visit can help you get the care you need.

Medical treatment for injuries suffered during an accident at work in Tennessee is typically covered by workers’ compensation. This type of insurance is paid for by your employer and helps ensure you get prompt treatment at your employer’s expense if you’re injured at work.

At Advanced Orthopedics & Sports Medicine (AOSM), with locations in Union City and Dyersburg, Tennessee, Dr. Michael CalfeePaxton Sisson PA-C, and the rest of our skilled team frequently deal with workers’ compensation-related injuries and know how to navigate the system.

Workers’ comp in Tennessee

Unless you were under the influence or deliberately trying to hurt yourself when you suffered an injury at work, it doesn’t matter whose fault it was. Your employer has a responsibility to ensure you receive medical care. 

Worker’s compensation in Tennessee may work differently from other states you’re familiar with. While some states allow you to see any doctor you choose for workers’ compensation-related cases, and others allow you to see a doctor you predesignated when you started employment, in Tennessee, your employer provides a medical panel of doctors to choose from.

That means you can’t just go see your primary doctor and expect your employer to pay for it in case of a workplace injury. However, there are several rules about which doctors your employer can list as the panel you can choose from:

First, the panel must consist of at least three different independent physicians. These doctors can’t operate out of the same medical practice or physical location.

Second, the doctors must be located within your local community. If you live in a physician desert, your employer can look as far away as 125 miles to find at least three doctors to put on your panel.

If you have to travel more than 15 miles to appointments, you can get reimbursed for travel mileage. You can also opt to take advantage of telehealth options. Your employer must provide you with the panel list no more than three days after the date of your injury.

Getting ready for your first workers’ compensation visit

Typically, a work injury should prompt you to instantly demand a case be opened and a formal record of the incident created. If your injury is acute, your employer will probably approve you to go to the nearest ER or urgent care to get an evaluation and immediate treatment, so they know what type of doctor you’ll need to see for further treatment and follow-up.

Make sure you get copies of all information about your injury, and start a file that you can give to your chosen doctor once the employer provides you with your approved panel of physicians. Your employer may have this already prepared, or may develop the panel based on your specific medical needs as ascertained by the ER or urgent care provider.

If a doctor at AOSM is one of the choices on your approved panel, you can move forward with booking your first appointment. We can usually get you in to be seen very quickly for a worker’s compensation-related claim.

Information we’ll need

Write down as much information as you can about how and when the injury happened, what it felt like, and what your symptoms have been since then. Specifically note any things that you used to be able to do that you now can’t do or which are painful or difficult for you to accomplish.

Make a list of any medication you’re on, both prescription and over-the-counter. Include any herbal supplements or vitamins, and list all regular medications plus any you may have been prescribed for your new injury.

Finally, make sure you have your paperwork with you from your employer, so we can open your file with us with clarity that workers’ compensation is covering your treatment. From there, we can give you all of the care you need and deserve. If you have to be taken off work, you may qualify for temporary disability benefits (wage replacement).

Have you recently suffered a workplace injury? To get in touch, call the AOSM location closest to you, or book an appointment online.