Next week is the annual 1-time change shenanigans week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. The 1st DCA has repeatedly confirmed 5 calendar days means 5 calendar days, so any request faxed, emailed or received via mail by your office on Wednesday before 5 pm means you must respond before 5 pm Monday or we lose the right to pick the doctor. It does not matter if your office is closed when the fax or email is received.
To sum up the caselaw:
What qualifies as a 1-time change request?
- It must be in writing. It can be an email, a grievance, a letter, a request for assistance, a PFB, anything…
- It may ask for an alternative doctor, choice of doctor, only cite 440.13(2)(f) or anything similar
- It can not be hidden
- The claimant has a right to a 1-time change even on most denied claims (ask me if you are unsure)
What must you do with it?
- Before 5 pm on the 5th day, you must respond with the name of the doctor you are selecting. To be safe, my office emails, faxes and mails opposing counsel the response.
- Arguably you should also contact (via email or fax) the doctor’s office to authorize them within the 5 days
- You do not need to provide an appt date within the 5 days
- You do not need to confirm the doctor will see the claimant within the 5 days.
- If it’s a walkin clinic, you must give the name of a doctor there, not just the clinic name
- The doctor you pick must be in the same specialty as the original doctor
- If its in a PFB, even though you have 14 days to respond, the 5 days still applies to the 1-time change.
- If the doctor’s office refuses to see the claimant, you arguably have another 5 day clock that starts with your knowledge (document and let the attys know)
So on Monday after Thanksgiving carefully comb through your mail to catch these.
Morgan Indek | Partner