Workers who get hurt on the job need to see a doctor not only to get medical treatment but also to establish the nature and extent of their injuries. A doctor’s medical evaluation plays an important role in determining the workers’ compensation benefits an injured employee receives.
In recent years, concerns have been raised about gender disparities in medical settings. A growing body of research has shown that female patients are more likely to be misdiagnosed or receive the wrong treatment when in the care of male doctors.
New research from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Texas at Austin has identified such gender issues in workers’ compensation cases, too. The study found that when female employees suffer a workplace injury or illness, they have a higher likelihood of qualifying for workers’ compensation disability benefits and receiving higher payments when their claims are assessed by female doctors.
The universities analyzed data from 2013 to 2017 to see if gender disparities were present in medical evaluations in workers’ compensation claims. Published in December 2021, the study concluded that a medical professional’s gender could be a noteworthy factor in workers’ compensation cases.
The researchers found that female workers were 5 percent more likely to be identified as disabled when the doctor handling their workers’ compensation claim was female rather than male. Additionally, female patients received an average of nearly 9 percent more in benefit payments when the medical evaluator was female. An interesting point to note is that injured male employees received the same benefits regardless of whether a male or female doctor evaluated their claim.
To avoid any potential biases, the researchers used the dispute resolution process of workers’ compensation claims to obtain an independent assessment from a randomly assigned doctor. Patients did not get to choose the gender of the medical professional who decided their claim.
The study authors carried out a separate survey of 1,519 working adults to determine whether they had a preference when picking a doctor. A significantly high rate of female workers stated they wanted to see a female doctor, while male workers did not have a preference.
A key takeaway from this research is that it may be beneficial for injured workers, particularly women, to pay attention to who evaluates their workers’ compensation claims. Without a conscious intention of doing so, a male medical evaluator could end up minimizing the severity and extent of your injuries, making it harder for you to obtain the benefits you need. If you suspect that your claim is not being handled properly, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible.
It is also important to recognize that many different factors determine the amount of workers’ compensation an injured employee will receive, not just the doctor’s gender. Filing a workers’ compensation claim involves proving that you are injured, the injury occurred at work, and that you are partially or completely disabled. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company may challenge your right to obtain benefits or try to pay as little as possible.
If you get injured at work, you should get medical attention right away. Tell the doctor about your illness or injury in detail, specifying that it resulted from a workplace incident. Follow the doctor’s advice and prescribed treatment.
Many employers have a dedicated medical provider for work injury claims. Illinois law, however, permits workers to choose their own doctor. There may be restrictions in certain situations.
If you have been injured at work in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois, the priority is to get quality medical treatment so that you can recover from your injuries. You also deserve to get the workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled. The benefits provide vital financial support that covers your medical bills, lost wages due to time off work for recovery, disability payments and other related costs.
If you are having difficulty getting your benefits, contact the trusted Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys at Briskman Briskman & Greenberg to schedule a free initial consultation. We are available to answer all your questions and ensure you understand your rights. Our lawyers are dedicated to helping workers get the full compensation they deserve.