Workers’ Compensation and Chiropractic Care

It is increasingly common for people to seek out alternative treatments for all types of ailments.  Many people shy away from taking too much medication or the traditional routes simply have failed to address their problems.  This will also hold true in workers’ compensation cases.  Not all employees who have suffered a work-related injury will want to pursue a course of treatment that involves heavy prescription drugs or drastic surgery.  In some situations, the worker may seek the care of a chiropractor to help with their injuries.  Workers’ compensation legislation requires employers to provide medical care, including chiropractic care, for their employees that is reasonably required to cure or relieve an injury.  Chiropractic care can present special issues that employers should be aware of.

Chiropractors occupy what some believe to be a dubious position in the medical world.  However, employers need to be aware that chiropractors do receive medical training, and in some cases more physiological training than family doctors.  A chiropractor’s approach deals with creating a treatment plan that does not involve drugs, but rather by performing adjustments to address the way the nervous system is controlling the body.  In terms of workers’ compensation cases, employers should be vigilant about the treatment administered by a chiropractor, as in some cases, the tendency is to continue to treat the injured employee long after a traditional doctor would have discharged the patient.  Chiropractors often believe firmly in preventative and follow-up care, which naturally requires many more appointments to continue to address potential future problems.

Like with any medical claim, there should also be special attention paid to an injured employee’s medical history.  If after reviewing medical records, an employer or insurance company discovers that the employee was already an existing patient with the chiropractor at the time of the injury, this should be red flag to investigate further.

The California legislature has taken steps to address the potential for excessive ongoing chiropractic appointments in workers’ compensation cases.  Section 4604.5 of the California Labor Code restricts the number of chiropractic visits for a work-related injury to no more than twenty-four.  The code does provide an exception in the case that an insurance company approves of extra visits.  This section applies to injuries sustained after January 1, 2004.

If you have questions about chiropractic care and workers’ compensation, call us today at (714) 516-8188.  We will discuss your business and your obligations.

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