Minnesota Workers Comp Lawyer
If you were hurt at work, the resulting injury could leave you out of commission for days, weeks, or even months. In order to cover the medical bills and your lost wages, you have the right to file for workers compensation. However, while many employers understand that you were hurt at work, there are some that might not understand the extent of your injuries, particularly if you are put on work restrictions after you have healed. This might lead your employer to contact your doctor in order to verify them. They might also contact them to understand as to why you have restrictions even though you look just fine. The question remains, can your employer legally contact your doctor directly?
The answer is a very concrete and inflexible no. If your employer contacts your doctor directly without your knowledge, then they are in violation of the Health insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that was put in place in order to protect a patient’s healthcare information. This act assures that a patient’s healthcare information flows through the proper channels and no one can just access it as they please.
If your employer commits a HIPAA violation, it can become a very expensive mistake as penalties can range for $100 to $50,000 depending on the level of negligence or past noncompliance.
When Can an Employer Contact My Doctor Directly?
There may be some circumstances in which you might want to give your employer access to your doctor. There is no reason your employer needs to talk to your doctors directly aside from your own personal preference. If they try to tell you otherwise, always remember you maintain the right to deny them.
However, if you adamantly want to prove to your employer that you are telling the truth about any injuries or restrictions, you can give them permission to contact your doctor. To do so, you must contact your doctor and inform them that your employer will be calling. Leave the name of the person who will call and give them clear permission that your doctor can share information on your injury with them. However, if your employer calls before that happens, it is still a HIPAA violation regardless of if you intended to give permission.
Alternatively, if you don’t want your employer calling your doctor, but they are not put off by HIPAA penalties, you can also inform your doctor that you do not want to share any information with your employer. Even if you did not call in to tell them that you did not give your employer permission to your records, it is unlikely that your doctor would share any information with anyone who was not given permission by you to know anyway.
What To Do When An Injury Puts Your Job in Peril
In some cases, an employer may think that because you won’t give them access to your medical record while on work restrictions that you are just being lazy and aren’t actually restricted. This means that if you are not able to do your current job and there are no other positions available to you, then they can fire you. If you are not able to do your job, that is within your employer’s right. This is why it is so important for employees with work restrictions to seek out a qualified rehabilitation consultant (QRC).
Those who qualify for a QFC are workers that can no longer return to the job that they were doing at the date of the injury, but are still able to return to the workforce. A QRC can be requested by you or your employer where they will develop a plan to help you secure gainful employment. These services include a vocational evaluation that will help them find jobs your can do, a plan to modify your current job, or will retrain you in other areas of employment. This may mean you can stay at your current company or you will be qualified to work somewhere else.
If you have been hurt on the job, contact us today. The Law Office of Joshua Borken is dedicated to helping workers not only get compensation for their work injuries, but making sure they are able to retain employment even if they have work restrictions for life.