Under the California Workers’ Compensation system, an employee is permitted to select his or her own
personal doctor or medical group to provide medical treatment after a work-related illness or injury. The
catch is that the employee must designate the personal physician before a work injury occurs. If an
employee does not properly designate a personal doctor or medical group before a work injury, often
times they must see a doctor selected by the employer, insurance company, or third-party
administrator. How do you as an employee, make sure you properly designate a personal doctor to
avoid going to the company clinic? Are there benefits to predesignating a personal doctor?
First, let’s look at the requirements for predesignating. The two requirements are as follows: 1) the
designation must be made before the work-related injury and 2) proper notice of designation must be
given to your employer prior to injury.
You can designate a personal medical doctor (M.D.), doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) or medical
group. You must have health care coverage for injuries or illnesses that are not work related on the date
of injury. Examples may include health care service plans, group disability insurance policies, or health
and welfare funds. Prior to the work injury, the designated doctor or medical group must agree to
provide treatment for any work injuries or illnesses. An agreement can be in the form of a physician
signature or signature from a representative from the medical group. Other documentation may be
used to show physician agreement absent signature.
Proper notice to your employer is required for the designation to be valid. Written notice of your desire
to be treated by a personal physician and the name and address of the personal physician or medical
group must be provided.
How to Predesignate a Personal Physician
If you want to designate a personal physician or medical group in case a future work injury or illness
occurs, complete DWC form 9783 – found on the DWC website. Once you have completed the form and
you and your physician or medical group representative have signed, provide a copy to your employer.
The best way to do this is e-mail an authorized employer representative or provide a paper copy to an
authorized employer representative or human resources personnel. Best practice would have an
employer representative sign and date the Notice of Predesignation of Personal Physician to
Why Predesignation is Rare
Most employees do not predesignate a personal physician. There are many reasons for this but the few
that stand out the most are: 1) employees simply do not know of their right to; 2) many people do not
prepare for the aftermath of a work place injury or illness; and 3) many personal physicians will not
agree to be predesignated for workers’ compensation.
Why is Predesignation Beneficial?
Predesignation can be beneficial because you are comfortable with your personal doctor and may have
a good working relationship. You already know where the clinic is located and you do not have to create
a new relationship with a doctor. If you know your personal physician looks out for your best interest,
predesignation could be beneficial for you. Sometimes Workers’ Compensation doctors are busy and do
not provide the attention some desire. Sometimes Workers’ Compensation doctors balance the
interests of insurance companies with the injured employee resulting in suboptimal results for the
Keep in mind your personal doctor or medical group must agree to the designation to treat you for
work-related injuries and illnesses. Your doctor may not be familiar with the Workers’ Compensation
procedure, may not be familiar with PR-2 or PR-4 reports. Many doctors are not fans of the Utilization
Review process or the bill review process used in the Workers’ Compensation system. Some personal
doctors may not be used to handling the denials and delays that are part of the Workers’ Compensation
system. Lastly, some personal doctors may not be familiar with common Workers’ Compensation
concepts like temporary disability, permanent disability, causation, apportionment, and rating
permanent disability under the proper guidelines, etc.
Despite these possible drawbacks, predesignation is a powerful tool to take medical control into your
own hands. Consider completing a predesignation form before it is too late. You can always treat within
the employer medical network if your personal physician does not rise up to your standards; however,
the option of a predesignated doctor has its advantages.