Are you obtaining medical treatment due to a personal injury or workers’ compensation injury? Do you have a pending legal claim regarding that injury? If so, here are some things you should keep in mind to best protect your interests:
- Keep all of your doctor’s appointments. Consistent treatment will lend validity to your injuries and prevent the claim that you are responsible for not getting better or getting worse.
- Write down your symptoms, limitations, medications, questions and concerns and bring that information with you to your appointments. Make sure you tell the doctor all pertinent information. Make sure they know if you are seeing other specialists. What seems repetitive or “old” to you is not to the doctor. Make sure that the doctor(s) take the time to go through all of your concerns (within reason). They see many patients in a day and it is common for them to confuse information, run on “automatic pilot,” and/or rush through appointments. You need to be your own advocate in the doctor’s office.
- Review your medical records and correct any mistakes you find. Again, for many reasons, doctors are usually under extreme pressure to see more patients per day than they probably should. It is also usually the case that several people are responsible for obtaining all of the information and preparing the medical report/record. It is very likely that the resulting medical report/record will not be 100% accurate concerning your symptoms, cause of injury, past medical history, review of concurrent treaters’ findings and the results of their exam. Since an error will likely be reviewed by that and other doctors and repeated, it is extremely important to correct it as soon as possible. This will prevent problems later on.
- Don’t leave the office without a current work status note! You/your attorney will need this to document any loss of income and to keep your workers’ compensation benefits going. You may also need this for your employer for Family and Medial Leave or for a disability insurance company. On the off chance the doctor forgot to evaluate your work capacity, your request for the note will bring it to the office’s attention so that it can be done. Attempting to get this done at a later date always causes problems.
- Be 100% sure what your next steps are before leaving the doctor’s office. Do you know when your next appointment is? Is a referral being made and do you have the referral slip and can you read it? Has medication been prescribed and do you have the prescription slip and can you read it? Are you to contact the doctor upon the happening of a certain event? Is the doctor’s office supposed to call you with the results of any tests? Make sure you do what you are supposed to do and follow up with anyone else who has to do something within a reasonable timeframe.