2014 Georgia Code
Title 34 - LABOR AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
APPENDIX: RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE STATE BOARD OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION
§ 201 - Panel of Physicians
(a) The employer may satisfy the requirements for furnishing medical care under O.C.G.A. § 34-9-200 in one of the following manners:
(1) (i) The employer may maintain a traditional posted panel of physicians that shall consist of at least six non-associated physicians, but is not limited to a minimum of six. However, the Board may grant exceptions to the required size of the panel where it is demonstrated that more than four physicians or groups of physicians are not reasonably accessible. The physicians selected under this subsection from the panel may arrange for any consultation, referral, and extraordinary or other specialized medical services as the nature of the injury shall require without prior authorization from the Board; provided, however, that any medical practitioner providing services as arranged by a primary authorized treating physician under O.C.G.A. § 34-9-201(b)(1) shall not be permitted to arrange for any additional referrals. The physicians and groups listed on the panel shall be counted as a separate choice from the others listed only if they are not associated with the other physicians and groups listed on the panel. The minimum panel shall include an orthopedic physician, and no more than two physicians shall be from industrial clinics. Further, this panel shall include one minority physician. The minority physician so selected must practice within the State of Georgia or be reasonably accessible to the employee's residence. "Minority" shall be defined as a group which has been subjected to prejudice based on race, color, sex, handicap or national origin, including, but not limited to Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans or Asian Americans. Failure to include one minority physician on the panel does not necessarily render the panel invalid. The Board reserves the right to allow exceptions when warranted. The employee may make one change from one physician to another on the same panel without prior authorization of the Board. The party which challenges the validity of a panel shall have the burden of proving that the panel violates the provisions of O.C.G.A. § 34-9-201 and Board Rule 201.
(ii) In the event that the Board has granted any exceptions to the panel requirements, all exceptions must be posted at the same location as the panel.
(2) Conformed Panel of Physicians. The employer may maintain a list of physicians that shall be known as the "conformed panel of physicians," which shall include a minimum of ten physicians, or professional associations, reasonably accessible to employees and providing the same types of healthcare services specified in Board Rule 201(a)(1) and the following additional healthcare services: general surgeons and chiropractors. The physicians and groups listed on the panel shall be counted as a separate choice from the others listed only if they are not associated with other physicians and groups listed on the panel. Further, this panel shall include one minority physician as specified in Board Rule 201(a)(1). An employee may obtain the services of any physician from the conformed panel and may thereafter also elect to change to another physician on the panel without prior authorization of the Board. The physician so selected will then become the authorized treating physician in control of the employee's medical care and may arrange for any consultation, referral, and extraordinary or other specialized medical services as the nature of the injury shall require without prior authorization of the Board; provided, however, that any of the physicians to whom the employee is referred by the primary authorized treating physician shall not be permitted to arrange for any additional referrals. The party which challenges the validity of the conformed panel shall have the burden of proving that the panel violates the provisions herein.
(3) An employer or the workers' compensation insurer of an employer may contract with a workers' compensation managed care organization certified pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-208 and Board Rule 208. A "workers' compensation managed care organization" (hereinafter "WC/MCO") means a plan certified by the Board that provides for the delivery and management of treatment to injured employees under the Georgia Workers' Compensation Act. The party which challenges the validity of the WC/MCO panel shall have the burden of proving that the panel violates the provisions herein. An employer utilizing a WC/MCO may satisfy the notice requirements of O.C.G.A. § 34-9-201(c) by posting a notice in prominent places upon the business premises which includes the following information:
(A) The employer has enrolled with the specified WC/MCO to provide all necessary medical treatment for workers' compensation injuries. An employee with an injury prior to enrollment may continue to receive treatment from the non-participating authorized treating physician until the employee elects to utilize the WC/MCO;
(B) The effective date of the WC/MCO;
(C) The geographical service area (by counties);
(D) The telephone number and address of the administrator for the employer and/or WC/MCO who can answer questions about the managed care plan;
(E) How the employee can access care with the WC/MCO and the toll-free 24-hour telephone number of the managed care plan that informs employees of available services.
(b) The employer/insurer cannot restrict treatment of the employee to the panel of physicians, conformed panel of physicians, or WC/MCO when the claim has been controverted. However, if the controverted claim is subsequently found to be or is accepted as compensable, the employee is authorized to select one of the physicians who has provided treatment for the work-related injury prior to the finding or acceptance of compensability, and after notice has been given to the employer, that physician so selected becomes the authorized treating physician. The employee may thereafter make one change from that physician to another physician without approval of the employer and without an order of the Board. However, any further change of physician or treatment must be in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 34-9-200 and Board Rule 200.
(c) When a case has not been controverted but the employer fails to provide any of the procedures for selection of physicians as set forth in O.C.G.A. § 34-9-201(c), the employee is authorized to select a physician who is not listed on the employer's posted panel of physicians, conformed panel of physicians or WC/MCO. After notice has been given to the employer, that physician so selected becomes the authorized treating physician, and the employee may make one change from that physician to another physician without approval of the employer and without an order of the Board. However, any further change of physician or treatment must be in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 34-9-200 and Board Rule 200.
(d) A party requesting a change of physician must do so in the manner prescribed by Board Rule 200.
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