Finding Approved Doctors for Workers’ Compensation in Washington State

When you’ve suffered an injury at work or developed an illness because of your job, one of the crucial steps you must take is to see a doctor. Under workers’ compensation laws in Washington State, a doctor has to certify that your condition is work-related before you can receive benefits.

You might be worried, however, about finding an approved doctor in the workers’ comp system run by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). If your employer gets workers’ comp through L&I, can you go to your regular doctor, or do you need a doctor in the L&I network?

The answer has two parts:

    1. When you first need treatment because of a workplace injury or occupational disease, don’t spend time worrying about it. Go straight to the emergency room if that’s what you need. Or visit your regular doctor if that’s the best option for getting the right care. Whoever it is, the doctor you see for your initial visit will help file your workers’ comp claim.
    2. If you need medical care beyond that first visit, that’s when you have to use a provider in the L&I network. Many doctors are included in the network, so you might be able to keep going to the same doctor. The L&I Department lists hundreds of doctors in Yakima, Kennewick, Walla Walla and locations around central Washington State.

You can choose any doctor from the L&I list. The Department provides an online directory of approved providers that you can search.

The L&I Department even encourages you to ask your regular doctor to join the network if they aren’t already included among the approved providers.

How You Work with Workers’ Comp Approved Doctors

An important point to know is that L&I wants you to use what the Department calls an “attending provider” when you need ongoing treatment because you were hurt on the job or developed an occupational illness.

An attending provider serves as a coordinator for your care. They report progress to L&I as they manage your treatment. It’s also part of their job to help you recover so you can return to work as soon as possible.

Approved attending providers include more than just medical doctors and surgeons. They also include osteopathic doctors, chiropractors, optometrists, podiatrists, dentists, naturopathic doctors, advanced registered nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants.

If you begin working with one attending provider and want to switch, that is an option available to you. You can request a transfer to another approved provider. An L&I claims manager must approve such requests.

You also can seek treatment from more than one doctor if it is medically necessary. That has to be approved by the L&I Department, or a self-insured employer if you are among the one-third of Washington residents whose employers self-insure.

L&I or a self-insured employer also could ask you for an “independent” examination by doctors selected by the insurer. They can ask for these under state law and must provide locations for the exams that are reasonably close to your home.

How Workers’ Comp Lawyers Help You

If you’ve suffered an industrial injury, your medical bills are skyrocketing and you cannot work, you may be feeling extreme anxiety about supporting yourself and your family.

On top of that, you have to navigate a complicated workers’ compensation system. Experienced workers’ comp attorneys can reduce the pressure by guiding you through every deadline and step in the process.

At Bothwell & Hamill, we’ve helped many others like you. We know how hard it is. Contact the offices of Bothwell & Hamill today. Or call 1-866-665-8630 for a free evaluation of your case.