THE ROLE OF THE GENERAL PRACTITIONER IN THE WORKERS COMPENSATION SCHEME
Following an injury at work the first person you normally see for treatment is your local General Practitioner. This doctor then takes on the role as the "Nominated Treating Doctor" for the purposes of the workers compensation scheme.
Role of the Nominated Treating Doctor
The role of the Nominated Treating Doctor is to oversee your medical management as well as participate in the return to work process. The doctor’s primary concern is your medical welfare and to ensure appropriate medical treatment is provided to you to assist in your recovery and return to work.
The secondary role of the doctor is to provide information to the workers compensation insurer and rehabilitation provider in respect of the nature of your injury and assist in your return to work.
When reporting to the insurance company about your injury the nominated treating doctor is required to complete a WorkCover medical certificate. The certificate is to be based on the doctor's clinical opinion in relation to the injury you have sustained, whether work is a substantial contributing factor to the injury sustained and your level of fitness for work.
It is the doctor’s responsibility to determine your ability to work and what restrictions should be placed on your employment having regard to your medical condition and the effects of treatment.
Often a rehabilitation provider and/or the workers compensation insurer place pressure on the Nominated Treating Doctor to certify that a worker is either fit to return to work or fit to return to certain types of work which in some instances may not be in the workers best interests. The Nominated Treating Doctor should ensure that you only return to work which is in accordance with your medical condition.
It is very important that the nominated treating doctor complete the medical certificate accurately and with as much detail as possible so the employer, rehabilitation provider and the insurer are aware of the nature and type of work that you are fit to undertake. Often when the WorkCover certificate is not completed in detail there is confusion and conflict in respect of what a worker can do in his or her return to work.
The NSW Medical Board has a guide to assist doctors in completing these certificates - www.nswmb.org.au.
The Nominated Treating Doctor plays a vital role in the workers compensation scheme assisting both workers compensation insurers and rehabilitation providers in your return to work.
It is important however that the nominated treating doctor always keep in mind what is in your best interests as the patient rather than the interests of the insurer. It is important that the nominated treating doctor when completing the WorkCover medical certificate is not influenced by other interested parties in the workers compensation scheme.
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