Your MPN May Still Be Valid, Despite a Lack of Multiple Physicians

Maria Soto v. Sambrailo Packaging, Zenith Insurance Company2016 Cal. Wrk. Comp. P.D. LEXIS 26, a panel decision, reaffirms the WCAB’s recent trend of finding valid MPN access standards where there are no physicians available within applicant’s preferred specialty.  In this case, defendant’s place of employment constituted a “rural area.”  Thus, defendant’s MPN required three primary treaters available within 60 minutes/30 miles of applicant’s home or work, and specialists to be within 120 minutes/60 miles from applicant’s home or work.  Applicant alleged injury to her neck, back, and right shoulder.  She selected a specialist in neurosurgery, but the neurosurgeon declined to treat applicant.  Applicant contended that the MPN did not meet access standards since there were no additional neurosurgeons.  The WCAB did not find any medical reason for the applicant to treat with a neurosurgeon.  Further, the defendant provided evidence to support multiple available physicians within the rural geographic area with specialties capable of providing applicant’s primary care.  Therefore, a valid MPN does not require applicant to treat within her selected specialty, so long as there are other physicians available within the MPN who are qualified to treat applicant’s injuries.