Getting timely treatment is essential for many injuries. The more complex your injuries, the more important it is that you have access to the right diagnostic testing and the highest quality treatment. If your injuries happened because of work tasks, it is workers' compensation which should pay for your timely treatment.
Unfortunately, NBC has recently issued a scathing report showcasing how injured workers are getting hurt because workers' compensation benefits are not working the way they should.
An injured employee should have his medical bills covered by a workers' comp insurer, but many workers hurt on-the-job are experiencing delays in getting approval for coverage or are even having their claims for specific medical services denied altogether. The consequences this can have on patient health can be devastating.
According to NBC, a survey of doctors in one state found that 67 percent of the physicians had tried to get care for a patient covered by workers' compensation and had experienced undue delays in getting approval for care. More than half said they ultimately ended up receiving a denial of medically necessary testing or treatment for their patients. The problem is not limited to this state alone. Doctors and patients throughout the country are expressing frustration with workers' compensation systems that fail to provide expected protections for workers.
Patients who suffer work injuries need to be able to get a diagnosis through testing their doctors deem appropriate, and should be able to receive the care they need to get better. When they don't, they experience lasting damage. NBC reported on patients whose returns to work were delayed; whose body parts deteriorated; and who were forced to suffer with pain needlessly for months due to delays in approval of treatment or due to outright denial of treatment.
One patient and his doctor reportedly ended up submitting more than 300 different requests for care, many of which were denied and others of which resulted in months of waiting before even simple and inexpensive care was authorized. The worker, for example, wanted a $30 heating pad to try to help the ongoing pain in his neck and back. It should have been covered. He ended up giving up and paying out of pocket because he couldn't take the pain any more as he waited months to find out if he could buy this essential medical device.
Injured workers deserve better. It is in everyone's best interests for a worker to get appropriate care and go back to work. The employees being hurt the most by these unfair denials and unnecessary delays, according to NBC, are the patients who have suffered the most complex injuries. They are most in need of timely and appropriate treatment.
If an injured worker is denied essential care or experiences inappropriate delays in getting care approved, the worker should get prompt legal advice to find out about options.