Does any other railroad employee have a right to attend an injured worker's doctor's visit? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

No, unless you explicitly agree to let the other person accompany you.

In all instances, any meeting with a doctor for the purpose of receiving medical care is confidential and privileged. The only way a third party such as a railroad claims agent or workplace supervisor can attend such a meeting is with the patient’s — that is, with your — consent.

The nature of the meeting makes no difference. It does not matter if the doctor is taking X-rays, performing MRIs, administering therapy or simply discussing your condition and care. Without a signed waiver from you, as the patient, no one from the railroad should be in the exam room or doctor’s office with you.

Now, you can waive patient-doctor privilege and allow company representatives to join you when you meet with your doctor, so carefully read any medical or legal forms the company hands you. Do not sign any agreement you do not fully understand and feel comfortable about. If any documentation includes a waiver of patient-doctor privilege, be sure you have a clear understanding of the extent of the information you are potentially disclosing. Also ask how you can revoke the waiver.

The focus of any medical treatment given following an on-duty injury should be on helping the patient recover. Therefore, only the patient and doctor should be involved when care is provided. There will be times when the doctor’s records and opinions need to be revealed to the railroad and governmental agencies such as the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board in order to verify a disability status. But those times come long after the actual treatment and therapy sessions.

When you do need to release your medical records to provide evidence of claims or to receive compensation, make sure you understand how the company or organization you give access will use the information and with whom they will share it. Also ask for copies of the disclosed records so you can confirm that your recollection of events and current health status match what your doctor is telling third parties.

Learn more: As Virginia and Carolina attorneys specializing in FELA and railroad injury law, we offer hundreds of pages of information to help you learn your rights and recover compensation if you’ve been hurt on the job, riding trains or crossing rail tracks. You may find our list “What Not to Do After a Railroad Accident” especially helpful.