Legal Question in Workers Comp in Alabama

Light duty release without examination

I’ve developed RSD as a result from a Carpal tunnel surgery 5 month ago. I’ve had 2 Nerve blocks done and participated in daily physical therapy without improvement. I have to take strong pain medication 3 times daily along with antidepressants, anti inflammatory and naturopathic pain medicine, which makes me very drowsy. My physical therapist now suggested for me to return to work on light duty so ''I would get out of the house and not be so depressed anymore'' I have only seen the WC neurologist twice (last time was 5 weeks ago). Without even examining me, he signed off on the physical therapists recommendation! However, since he ordered light duty without the use of my right hand my employer did not have a position available for me, therefore he changed it to a work hardening program which requires staying with a physical therapist for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I did this for 2 1/2 days but I had to be picked up and taken home early due to excruciating pain from the therapy. The only thing I am doing there is therapy 4 times a day and sit there for the rest of the day crying in pain. This is very humiliating for me. Can a doctor give orders like that without examining me? Do I have to go back to work hardening?

Asked on 9/29/07, 6:53 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Rhonda Hood Hood & Lay, LLC
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Re: Light duty release without examination

First, under the Workers' Compensation Act, the law allows the employer to select your treating physician at the time of the accident. You should be aware that if you are dissatisfied with the treating physician selected by the employer, and if further treatment is required, you are entitled to select a second physician from a panel or list of four physicians selected by the employer.

Also know that if you refuse to comply with any reasonable request for examination, or refuse to accept the medical service or physical rehabilitation which the employer elects to furnish, your right to workers compensation payment can be suspended during period of such refusal. Therefore, at this point, you need to comply with the doctors orders and attend work hardening. However, during therapy make sure you voice all pains and problems you are experiencing and do not go forward with a therapy event that you feel is causing you more injury.

Before exercising your right to choose a different treating physician from a list provided by your employer, I suggest that if you have you have private insurance, you may wish to schedule your own appointment with a doctor of your choosing to get a second opinion on your current treatment. Sometimes another doctor's opinions may help influence the company doctor.

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Answered on 10/15/07, 10:47 am

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