Simultaneous Treatment by Multiple Physicians

April 1, 1995 Advisory
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The Compensation Review Board recently held that it is permissible for an injured worker to be treated concurrently by his or her regular physician and a specialist. In Bestiko v. McDonald's Restaurant and Kemper, the injured claimant sought treatment for his back injury from his general practitioner, Dr. Hofbauer. Dr. Hofbauer immediately referred the claimant to Dr. Greco, an orthopedic physician.

Although Dr. Greco treated the claimant, Dr. Hofbauer continued to prescribe pain medication. The employer refused to pay for the medication on the ground that Dr. Hofbauer was no longer the authorized treating physician. The CRB upheld the Commissioner's finding that both Drs. Greco and Hofbauer were treating physicians and the employer was therefore responsible for the prescription bills as long as the medication was prescribed for the compensable back injury.

Lesson: It is essential to scrutinize bills for prescription medications. Doctors often are unaware that a claimant is receiving prescriptions from more than one physician, and there is, therefore, great potential for abuse. If an employer believes that a claimant is abusing prescription medication, the employer should immediately file a Form 43 stating that the treatment, i.e., the continued use of the prescription medication, is unreasonable and unnecessary.