Nurse practitioners perform many of the same functions that doctors do. For example, like a doctor can, an NP in Colorado may diagnose and treat patients and prescribe medication as long as the NP’s initial supervisory period has been completed. Colorado also recognizes NPs as primary care providers. That said, workers’ compensation is an issue that perhaps requires even more care and attention to detail because of the documentation involved. It is also important that correct diagnoses be made.
So, can you see NPs for workers’ comp?
Yes, but there must be an authorized treating physician
An NP may see you, diagnose you, treat you and prescribe medications, but there must also be an authorized treating physician somewhere in the picture. Moreover, this physician must be available in some way to render assistance or to answer questions while the NP is with you.
In other words, if the NP feels confident enough treating you, he or she may never feel the need to consult the authorized physician beyond what is legally required. On the other hand, an NP, particularly one who may have little experience with your type of injury or with workers’ compensation claims in general, may seek out the physician’s opinion. However, your injury must fit under the NP’s practice scope, and the physician must sign his or her agreement to many important documents relating to your ability or inability to work, among other issues. The authorized treating physician must also see you at some point during your first three visits to the medical office.
It is not necessarily a bad thing if you are seeing an NP who seeks help from a physician. In fact, it is good to have an NP self-aware of his or her weaknesses as well as strengths. The bottom line, though, is that while an NP may provide your primary care, there should be a doctor who is supposed to track the NP’s work and have at least a little direct involvement with you.