2015 Georgia Code
§ 200 - Compensation for Medical Care; Changes in Treatment; Filing of Medical Reports; Requests for Medical Information

GA Code § 200 (2015) What's This?

(a) (1) The employer/insurer have a duty to provide all reasonable and necessary medical treatment in a timely manner and to give appropriate assistance in contacting medical providers when necessary. The employee has a continuing obligation to cooperate with medical providers in the course of their treatment for work related injuries.

(2) Payment of compensation for costs by the employer or its insurer directly to the providers of medical, surgical and hospital care and other treatment, items, or services on behalf of the employee or directly to the employee shall satisfy employer's obligation to furnish the employee compensation for costs of such medical, surgical, hospital care and other treatment, items and services provided for by O.C.G.A. § 34-9-200(a).

(b) (1) Changes in treatment. Except as provided in subsection (b) of O.C.G.A. § 34-9-201, changes of physician or treatment are made only by agreement of the parties or by order of the Board. If there has been no hearing requested, a party requesting a change shall make a good faith effort to reach agreement on the change before requesting an order from the Board.

If an agreement cannot be reached, the party requesting the change shall make the request on a Form WC-200b. When filing the WC-200b, the moving party shall sign the Form WC-200b, attach supporting documentation including a separate certificate of service identifying the names and addresses serviced attached to the end of the request, and serve a copy on all counsel and unrepresented parties. In cases that have been designated as "Medical Only", the requesting party shall file a Form WC-14 Notice of Claim or a Form WC-1 along with the Form WC-200b in order for the Board to process the request. The party making the request must specify the reason for the requested change, as well as the date that the change shall be effective. If the argument in support of the request is based on testimony, then an affidavit must be attached to the form, and if the argument refers to documents, then a copy of the documents must be attached. Do not use tabs to separate documents used as evidence. If the Board grants a change, the effective date will be the date that the Form WC-200b was filed, unless otherwise specified.

Any party who objects to the request for a change of physician or treatment shall also file their objection on a Form WC-200b with the Board within 15 days of the date of the certificate of service on the request, including a separate certificate of service identifying the names and addresses served attached to the end of the objection, and serving a copy on all unrepresented parties and counsel. Affidavits and documents must be attached as specified above.

All requests and objections to change of physicians shall be filed on a Form WC-200b and shall be limited to 50 pages, including briefs and exhibits, unless otherwise permitted by an Administrative Law Judge or the Board.

Whenever the pending issues in a request resolve, in part or in whole, the parties or attorneys shall immediately notify the assigned Administrative Law Judge: (1) first, by telephone call; and (2) if so instructed, by subsequent written or electronic confirmation. Any party or attorney who fails to follow this procedure, and who is unable to show good cause for such failure, may be subject to civil penalties and/or assessed attorney's fees.

If a hearing has been requested, the party requesting a change of physician or treatment may include the request in the original request for hearing, or amend the hearing request within 15 days prior to the date of the hearing to include the issue of change of physician or treatment. Upon consideration of the evidence, the Administrative Law Judge will render a decision on all the issues presented.

If the parties agree on a change of physician or treatment, a properly executed Form WC-200a may be filed with the Board, with copies provided to the named medical provider(s) and parties to the claim, which form shall be deemed approved and made the order of the Board pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-200(b), unless otherwise ordered by the Board.

(2) The party requesting/objecting to a change in physician shall set forth reasons why the change will/will not benefit the employee, or provide the employee with medical care reasonably required to effect a cure, give relief, or restore the employee to suitable employment. Factors which may be considered in support of the request/objection may include, but are not limited to, the following:

(i) Proximity of physician's office to employee's residence;

(ii) Accessibility of physician to employee;

(iii) Excessive/redundant performance of medical procedures;

(iv) Necessity for specialized medical care;

(v) Language barrier;

(vi) Referral by authorized physician;

(vii) Noncompliance of physician with Board Rules and procedures;

(viii) Panel of physicians;

(ix) Duration of treatment without appreciable improvement;

(x) Number of prior treating physicians;

(xi) Prior requests for change of physician/treatment;

(xii) Employee released to normal duty work by current authorized treating physician;

(xiii) Current physician indicates nothing more to offer.

(3) When filing a motion for reconsideration, the parties or attorneys shall: (1) immediately notify the Board or assigned Administrative Law Judge by telephone call; (2) use the ICMS doc-type labeled motion for reconsideration; (3) limit their motion to 20 pages, including briefs and exhibits, unless otherwise permitted by the Board or an Administrative Law Judge; and (4) serve a copy on all counsel and unrepresented parties, along with supporting documents, including a separate certificate of service identifying the names and addresses served.

(c) (1) As long as an employee is receiving compensation, he or she shall submit himself or herself to examination by the authorized treating physician scheduled by the employer/insurer at reasonable times and with reasonable notice. If the employee refuses to submit himself or herself to or in any way obstructs such an examination requested by and provided for by the employer, upon order of the board his or her right to compensation shall be suspended until such refusal or objection ceases and no compensation shall at any time be payable for the period of suspension unless in the opinion of the board the circumstances justify the refusal or obstruction.

(2) Nothing contained herein shall be construed to abridge the employee's continued right to schedule his/her appointments for authorized medical treatment.

(d) The employer/insurer may suspend weekly benefits for refusal of the employee to submit to treatment only by order of the Board.

(e) Medical Reports

The employer/insurer shall not file with the Board a medical report for any injury which occurred after January 1, 1989, except as follows:

(1) The report or its attachments contains a permanent partial disability rating (file within 10 days of employer/insurer's receipt);

(2) A rehabilitation plan is filed with the Board. In such instance the medical reports shall be filed with the rehabilitation plan;

(3) Medical reports are requested by the Board (file within 10 days of request.)

Any additional medical reports required shall be filed within 10 days of the employer/insurer's receipt of same. The employer/insurer shall maintain copies of all medical reports in their files and shall not file medical reports except in compliance with this Rule.

(f) (1) Requests for Medical Information. The employee shall, upon the request of the employer/insurer, furnish copies of all medical records and reports which are in his/her possession concerning the treatment for the accident which is the subject of the claim. The employee shall furnish the copies within 30 days of the date of the request. The employer/insurer shall pay the reasonable cost of the copies as provided by the Board-approved fee schedule.

(2) The employer/insurer shall, upon the request of the employee, furnish a copy of the posted panel of physicians, and copies of all medical records and reports in their possession concerning the treatment for the accident which is the subject of the claim, and shall, upon request of the employee, furnish copies of all medical records and reports which were obtained with a release of the employee provided pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-207(b), within 30 days of the date of the request at no expense to the employee.

(3) Upon failure of either party to furnish information as provided above, the physician or other medical providers shall, upon request, furnish copies of all medical reports and bills in their possession concerning the treatment for the accident which is the subject of the claim, at no expense to the employee or his/her attorney. A reasonable cost for copies pursuant to the fee schedule may be charged against the party determined to be responsible for payment of medical expenses. Nothing in this Rule shall limit an employee's right to obtain a complete copy of his/her medical records from any health care provider.

(g) Physicians as defined in O.C.G.A. § 34-9-201(a) may be called upon and may be issued a subpoena requiring their testimony as expert witnesses based upon their examinations and treatment of employees alleging work-related injuries. In lieu of live testimony at hearings in cases pending before the State Board of Workers' Compensation regarding matters subject to the Act, as permitted under O.C.G.A. § 24-10-24 (24-13-24 effective 1/1/13), depositions may be taken pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 34-9-26 et seq and O.C.G.A. § 34-9-102(d)(3), and said physicians shall be compensated for their preparation time and actual time pursuant to the provisions of the Board approved Fee Schedule or by a fee agreement agreed to by the parties and the physician.

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