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One-time change case favoring the employer.

January 1, 2019
McClelland v. Highlands County School Board and Ascension Insurance, No. 1D17-4256, 1st DCA, Jul. 17, 2018

The claimant requested a one-time change in orthopedic physician on February 15, 2017. That same day, the employer sent authorization and medical records to the one-time change doctor. Also on that day, an email was sent to claimant’s counsel granting the change and naming the new physician. The employer followed up on February 28, March 14 and March 17, 2017. On March 31, 2017, the employer sent authorization and records to another physician, and on March 23, that doctor agreed to see the claimant. A fax was sent to the alternative physician with an authorization, and a fax was also sent to claimant’s counsel with information on a March 24, 2017, appointment. The judge of compensation claims said that the narrow issue presented was “what constitutes authorization of a change of physician?” Section 440.13(2)(f), Fla. Stat., says only that “the carrier shall authorize… .” The judge held that each case must be reviewed in the “totality of the circumstances surrounding the request and authorization.” The judge went on to say that the employer must act diligently in obtaining the agreement to treat by the named physician or timely authorize a replacement once the initial doctor has refused to provide care. Here, the employer did just that. The claimant appealed, but the First District Court of Appeals affirmed without a written opinion.

 

Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2019

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