Visitor Question

Can my employer force me to limit work injury treatment to days off?

Submitted By: Anonymous (San Diego, California)

I work as a registered nurse in California. I was injured on the job when a dialysis machine’s wheel broke off and the machine fell to the floor – pulling me down with it. I injured my lower back and strained some muscles very badly.

I was on FMLA for seven weeks and used that time to heal and go to a barrage of physical therapy, doctor checkups, and acupuncture.

I ended up getting more physical therapy and chiropractic sessions assigned but I had to return to work. My job is asking me to only schedule my physical therapy and job injury-related doctor checkups on days that I am not working. This is proving to be difficult – especially when the workers comp insurance is giving me a specific time frame in which to complete all sessions

Can they force this on me? Also, can they request this information from the medical office/clinics without asking me? What options do I have? I appreciate you pointing me in the right direction.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your great questions. Your employer can’t force you to schedule therapy and doctors’ appointments on your days off. Also, you can block your employer from accessing any information from your clinics and medical providers.

Scheduling Workers’ Comp Related Appointments

California’s Division of Workers’ Compensation is located in the state’s Department of Industrial Relations. According to the Division, workers are entitled to schedule appointments that meet with their particular schedules.

Further, it’s illegal for your employer to punish you or fire you for having a job injury, or for filing a workers’ compensation claim. See this helpful Fact Sheet.

It seems like forcing you to schedule medical appointments on days off work constitutes a form of impermissible punishment.

Also, know that workers’ compensation benefits should pay you for your time off work when you have to attend doctor appointments required by the insurance company.

The company you work for may have a policy for scheduling doctor’s appointments. We suggest you consult your employee handbook.

Employers Accessing an Employee’s Medical Information

California’s Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act sets forth several patient rights regarding medical care and information.  This statute is more commonly known as HIPAA.

Two important rights under these laws are:

  • A patient’s right to find out who has received your health data
  • A patient’s right to restrict the sharing of your health care data

We suggest that you contact your clinics to learn if your employer has tried to access information as to your appointments and treatment. It’s then a good idea to tell each of your individual providers to block that information from your employer.

As part of routine practice, medical offices will typically contact a patient before sharing medical information with non-caregivers. If your providers haven’t called you, then maybe your employer hasn’t tried to access any information.

Regarding your circumstances, please keep in mind the following:

  • An employer does have a right to ask for a doctor’s note if an employee will miss work
  • The workers’ comp insurance company has a right to medical records relating to a work injury

Learn more here: Back Injuries at Work

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,

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