OWCP doctors and Second Opinion examinations

There is often a lot of confusion about the difference in a federal doctor from an OWCP doctor, a District Medical Advisor, and a second opinion or referee doctor. Hopefully, this article will shed some light on the differences and help you understand why having a doctor that understands how the OWCP works to treat you is so important.

The terms ‘federal doctor’ and ‘OWCP doctor’ do not actually define how a doctor practices medicine. They are terms used by people within the federal community to denote a physician that has special understanding or familiarity with the Office of Workers Compensation Programs and their procedures. Those terms help you know which doctors might be helpful with your injury claim.

However, it is important to be careful and understand that sometimes the term ‘OWCP doctor’ might insinuate that the doctor works for the federal government. The OWCP does not directly employ any physicians that actually examine claimants. However, some doctors are occasionally contracted to see a federal claimant for a second opinion or referee exam.

When the medical evidence in you federal workers compensation claim are not sufficient to make a decision on the case, the claims examiner may schedule an appointment for you to see one of those contract doctors. Often those doctors do not establish a patient/doctor relationship and simply render an opinion based on the questions asked by the claims examiner. This is not your doctor. Some may be helpful, but often they are making a determination on the merits of your case with a 1o minute exam and may not be able to give your case the time that it deserves.

Similarly, a referee doctor is used as a third and final say when two doctors have a disagreement about your medical file. They may choose to side with your treating doctor, or the second opinion doctor. Sometimes they even come up with their own opinion that is different entirely.

Understanding the differences between these terms is important for any federal employee that has an ongoing workers comp file. FedDoctor is always looking to find doctors that understand the federal workers compensation system and can help you get the treatment and documentation that you need. Keep checking back and share this information with your fellow federal employees. We want the federal employee to be informed on their medical care rights and understand that their health care choices make a difference when it comes to a workers compensation claim.

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