Who enjoys doctor’s visits? Almost nobody. Most people view doctor’s appointments as times of stress, anxiety and confusion. Yet, these appointments are essential to your health and healing following a personal injury.
You need to make the most of your doctor visits. Appointments can be hard to schedule. And, you may only get a few minutes with the doctor before his/her next appointment. So, here are six tips to help with your doctor visits.
1. Be Friendly. I know — this is obvious. It “goes without saying.” But, sometimes being friendly is not easy. If you are hurt on the job in Alabama and getting workers’ compensation, then your employer (or its insurance carrier) picks the doctor. Often, these insurance carriers schedule and cancel your appointments with very little concern for you. That process can be extremely frustrating. In other personal injury cases, like car accidents, you get to pick your doctor. Yet, scheduling and waiting for appointments can still be frustrating. How many people can still easily smile after sitting a couple hours in a patient waiting room? How many people can still smile after repeating their story to, yet, another person in another medical office. Any number of issues and inconveniences can sour your mood before you ever see the actual doctor. Don’t let outside issues cause you to be unfriendly or confrontational with the doctor. Trust me — It will not help your treatment or your case.
2. Be Clear. I read medical records daily. I see records for many people with many different injuries. When you tell the doctor something, he/she will put it into their notes. Sometimes, the doctor gets it wrong. Some doctors write notes. Some dictate (speak into a recorder for a person to type later). Some doctors now use devices like laptops and iPads to enter information. Doctors and their typists can make mistakes. But, you should not make one. It’s your injury and health.
If you are seeing a doctor for the first time about your injury, be clear with the history of how the accident or injury occurred. If you don’t speak clearly to the doctor about the accident, he/she is not going to back you up a year from now when asked about it. The doctor needs to know how you were hurt, where you were hurt and the problems you are having.
3. Be Ready With A List. You will only have a short time to actually see and speak with the doctor. Make a list of your questions. Make a list of your concerns. Make a list of your problems or symptoms. In the stress and rush of seeing the doctor, you can easily forget something important. If you do, you may have to wait a long time before another opportunity to ask a key question.
4. Be Honest. Honesty is essential to your care. You may feel uncomfortable about providing certain information but it is important to your treatment.
In addition to your care, honesty is important to your claim. In workers’ compensation cases where the employer (or its insurance carrier) is paying the doctor, they often send a case nurse who will supply the doctor with other records and information. In any personal injury claim that is filed and prepared for court, the insurance company lawyer can seek a deposition of the doctors where he/she asks the doctors questions under oath. You don’t want your doctor to be confronted by a document or record that reveals you to be untruthful.
5. Be With Someone. As I mentioned previously, you only have a short time for the actual doctor visit. A friend or family member can be helpful. This person can remind you of a question or piece of information you need to tell the doctor. This person can take notes for you. And, this person can help lessen the stress or anxiety of a medical appointment. I recommend to all my clients that they consider having someone with them at appointments.
6. Be Confident In Your Knowledge Of The Treatment Plan. Most people have limited medical knowledge. Most people have limited experience dealing with the medical process. That’s OK. If you have followed my other advice about being friendly, honest and making the most out of the doctor’s valuable time, you have taken the right steps to build a good professional relationship with your doctor. Take the time to make sure you understand the next steps in your care. Do you need to return to the doctor? What treatment is next? What should you expect about your problems or healing? What symptoms should you monitor? How should you handle any medications? Ask questions and make sure you are clear about your care. Most doctors appreciate patients who express the desire to understand and follow their plan of care.
Medical visits following a personal injury can be stressful. After an injury, most of us want to return to work and our normal life as quickly as possible. Medical appointments are important to your healing and any potential claim. You must make the most of your time with the doctor. If you need advice about a personal injury claim, attorneys at the Blackwell Law Firm are happy to answer your questions.