Q: Can an employer require prior authorization before seeking medical treatment for a work injury?
Proposed language in employee handbook: You must receive prior authorization before seeking outside medical treatment unless the condition is
immediately dangerous to life and health. Failure to do so will result in a written warning.
A: Like a lot of questions involving Worker’s Compensation cause the answer is “it depends”. Essentially, “prior authorizatIon” could mean several different things as it relates to the employer, and or the Worker’s Compensation insurance company. Best to consult a Worker’s Compensation attorney to fully understand your rights and obligations concerning a work injury claim.
A: This is a complicated question, and it depends upon whether the medical care is a true emergency, whether drug testing is involved, and several other things. If you are an injured worker, and you got hurt at work badly enough to need emergency care, then you have a right to that care, regardless of whether the employer or their insurer formally "authorized" that care, and regardless of what the employee handbook says. You should consider consulting a local attorney, particularly if you are hurt badly enough that surgery is involved. Alternatively, if you are an HR manager fishing for free advice on how to craft an employee handbook, consider consulting a defense firm. They have employment manuals and handbooks pre-drafted, or they can modify yours in a way that doesn't create extra liability for you. As they say, an attorney (or HR manager) that represents themselves has a fool for a client. Don't be penny wise and pound foolish by trying to write your employee handbook based off advise you got online :)
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