When Doctors and Patients Disagree About Whether the Patient Is Well Enough to Return to Work
Most of the time, when you and your doctor disagree about the appropriate course of treatment for you, you are free to seek a second opinion. You probably know someone who had to visit more than one doctor before they found a way to manage a health condition effectively. When your illness or injury is work-related, the situation is both easier and more difficult. The good news is that, at least in theory, workers’ compensation will cover your medical expenses, and you do not even need to prove that your injury resulted from your employer’s negligence, just that it resulted from your work. The bad news is that the decision about when you are well enough to return to work does not belong to you alone. If you disagree with your doctor or your employer about any matter related to a work injury, contact a South Florida workers’ compensation lawyer.
What Can Go Wrong: The LeBlanc Case
Daniel LeBlanc, an employee of the Department of Corrections, suffered from chronic stress and high blood pressure. His physician, Dr. Yuliya Acevedo, recommended that he take time off of work, and she also referred him to a psychiatrist for further evaluation. When he went to see Dr. Acevedo for a follow-up visit, his blood pressure was better, and she determined that he could return to work. LeBlanc did not feel well enough to go back to work, so he continued to stay home.
LeBlanc’s employer sent a questionnaire about LeBlanc’s health to Dr. Acevedo, and she completed it and returned it without asking LeBlanc for his consent to disclose his health information. In her responses, she mentioned that she had referred LeBlanc to a psychiatrist. The employer then required LeBlanc to undergo an evaluation by a psychiatrist for the specific purpose of determining whether his mental health was good enough for him to go back to work. The psychiatrist who evaluated LeBlanc reported that LeBlanc’s mental health problems made it impossible for him to continue at his job, so the Department of Corrections terminated his employment. LeBlanc then sued Dr. Acevedo for negligence for breaching her duty to keep his health information confidential.
While LeBlanc v. Acevedo is not a dispute over workers’ compensation coverage as such, it does illustrate the complications that arise when employers are involved in decisions about employees’ medical care for illnesses related to their work. If your illness is related to work, and it is serious enough that a single course of medication or outpatient surgery cannot make it disappear, it is a good idea to hire a lawyer. A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you determine whether your employer and doctors are fulfilling their responsibilities to you or whether you should ask for more.
Let Us Help You Today
A doctor’s first duty is to the patient, even when the illness or injury for which the doctor is treating the patient is work-related. Contact a Sunrise workers’ compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld for help today.