Workers' Compensation

Tennessee: Pain-Management Physicians Exempt From State’s “Community” Doctor Rules

A Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel of the Supreme Court of Tennessee held that under the recently enacted pain-management provisions of Tenn. Code Ann. § 50–6–204(j) (2014), pain-management physicians whose offices are within 175 miles of the injured worker’s residence are exempt from the “community” doctor rule set forth in Tenn. Code Ann. § 50–6–204(a)(4), which generally requires the employer to provide the employee with a list of three qualified physicians in the employee’s “community.” Accordingly, where an employee sustained a 2007 work-related injury and settled his claim under terms that allowed him to continue receiving pain management treatment from a physician in Lebanon, Tennessee, the employee’s subsequent move to a new location 162 miles away from the physician did not mean the employer had to provide him with a new panel of physicians. The special panel, reviewing the amendment’s legislative history, said that the purpose of the rule was to ensure an adequate available pool of qualified pain management physicians for workers’ compensation beneficiaries located in rural areas. The panel added that since the amendment was “remedial,” it could be applied to the employee on a retroactive basis.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

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See Patterson v. Prime Package & Label Co., LLC, 2014 Tenn. LEXIS 1037 (Dec. 22, 2014) [2014 Tenn. LEXIS 1037 (Dec. 22, 2014)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 94.02 [94.02]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law