Can workers' compensation doctor face medical malpractice claim?

Construction workers in Arizona who have to deal with financial consequences along with the pain and suffering caused by workplace accidents might find it tough to cope. What would happen if a worker believes that the designated workers' compensation doctor misdiagnosed the injury or was negligent in the treatment of it? Will the injured worker be allowed to file a medical malpractice claim against the doctor?

The answer depends on the circumstances of the case. The fact that a doctor provides his or her services for the workers' compensation system does not shield him or her from being held liable for medical errors or negligence. Claims against these doctors can follow inadequate medical care, misdiagnosis, breach of doctor-patient confidentiality, lack of consent and other errors allowed in any medical malpractice lawsuit.

If the workers' compensation doctor pursued any risky or non-standard treatment without getting the worker's consent, there might be grounds for a lawsuit. In some cases, the workers' compensation doctor serves only as an examining physician, but if any further injury occurs during that examination, the doctor might also be held liable. However, navigation of such claims could be challenging.

Fortunately, victims of construction accidents in Arizona have access to attorneys who are experienced in both workers' compensation and medical malpractice. Such a lawyer can assess the viability of a claim against a workers' compensation doctor, and if grounds exist, the attorney can provide the necessary guidance. He or she will also be able to ensure all the time limits for bringing such claims are met in pursuit of damage recovery.

Source: FindLaw, "When Can You Sue a Workers' Comp Doctor?", Molly Zilli, April 17, 2018

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