Last week, I began discussing eight mistakes personal injury victims make during medical visits. You can read the first four mistakes with my advice, here. Today, I’m going to finish this topic with a discussion of four more mistakes. My hope is that you make the most of your visits and the treatment offered you. Your health and healing should be your top priority. With that in mind, here are four additional mistakes with my commentary about each:
V. Stopping Treatment Before Completion
This issue frustrates doctors. The doctor recommended a course of treatment because he or she felt it necessary to treat your injury. You should complete treatment. If you do not want to complete a specific course of treatment, you should talk with your doctor. Do not simply quit.
For your claim, insurance companies and their lawyers will argue you were healed. Juries will often agree. The same is true for large gaps in treatment. I understand many patients face problems which lead to gaps in care. If you can avoid a significant gap, you definitely should. If a gap is not avoidable, make sure you document the reasons if you are still hurting.
VI. Failing To Cooperate With Your Doctor
Issues of stopping treatment, skipping appointments and concealing your history are clearly failures to cooperate with the doctor. We discussed those earlier. Additionally, your attitude with the doctor is very important. Doctors do not like patients who argue, who fail to listen, who second-guess or who do not follow recommended treatment.
You may not like the doctor’s bed-side manner. You may not be buddies. You don’t have to be friends. You do need a working and trusting relationship with your doctor. You should do your part by cooperating with the physician.
What you say is typed into the records. If you are difficult with the physician, it will likely be in the records. The insurance company and its lawyers will use negative statements in the records against you. And, if the physician decides he or she does not like you, then it will likely impact every opinion the physician gives in both the records and his/her testimony. You must cooperate with the doctors.
VII. Ignoring Pain And Limitations
I get it – you don’t want to whine or complain. Yet, a medical appointment is not the time to tough it out. It’s not the time to be stone-faced or stoic. You are seeing the doctor to discuss your injuries. The doctor needs to know your pain and limitations in order to treat you. The doctor needs to know how, where and the extent of your problems.
If your pain and problems are not documented in the medical records, then the insurance company will not accept them. If you testify at trial about pain or problems when they were not documented in doctor visits, the judge or jury will probably not believe you.
I understand that many doctor questions are difficult to answer. How do you rate your pain on a 1-10 scale? It’s an almost impossible task. I’ve written about the problems with the artificial pain scale in the past. How do you tell a hopeful doctor that the prescribed physical therapy is not helping? It’s difficult. It’s easy in the moment to stay quiet or say everything is fine. When you ignore your problems and fail to discuss them with the doctor, you are harming yourself. You are harming your recovery. You are harming your claim.
VIII. Speculating About Accident Facts
The doctor needs to know how you were hurt. You should tell the physician what happened and how you were hurt. However, you should not speculate (or embellish) on unknown facts. You need to be careful not to guess at facts. For example, don’t tell the doctor the other vehicle was traveling a 100 mph when you don’t really know. Speculation (or embellishment) will harm your case if (and when) the other evidence reveals something different. The insurance company and its lawyers will see your records. They will study those records. If you embellished or speculated about facts, they will use it against you. Why create an issue for the insurance company to use against you?
If you have medical questions, let us know. We are happy to discuss your issues. We understand the problems and worries of injury victims.
At the Blackwell Law Firm, we specialize in personal injury cases. From our office in Huntsville, we represent clients across Alabama. Our philosophy is based upon case preparation. Better preparation leads to better trials and better settlements. We prepare and advise our clients at every step of the process. This includes each step of the medical process. If you have questions, let us know. We are happy to provide answers.