Some types of work injuries are obvious. When a worker breaks an arm in a fall or suffers burns in an explosion, there is physical proof of the injury. But the effects of an injury that causes back pain, or a concussion, or a repetitive stress injury may not be so apparent. Because workers’ compensation insurance companies wish to keep their claim costs low, they may try to limit benefits for these kinds of injuries, or deny some claims altogether.
However, when information concerning the pain and physical limitations you are suffering is in your medical record, the insurance company will find it much more difficult to limit your benefits or deny your claim. Your doctor is the key to getting this vital information into your medical record.
How to work effectively with your doctor
The importance of accurately reporting your symptoms, pain, and physical limitations to your doctor cannot be overstressed. If you fail to get this important information into your medical record, you may not get all of the benefits you deserve. Here are some tips to help you communicate effective with your doctor:
Accurately describe what you are experiencing – When you meet with your doctor for the first time and in subsequent visits, be honest about your symptoms, pain and limitations. Don’t exaggerate or be dramatic. If you do so, your doctor could note that in your record and the insurance company could use that to limit or deny your benefits.
Don’t downplay your symptoms – Men in particular have a tendency to put a brave and stoic face on things. That’s because feeling pain or voicing distress is seen by some men as being unmanly. But if your pain is real or the symptoms are negatively affecting your life, you owe it to yourself and your family to tell it to your doctor.
Be thorough when describing your symptoms – You may not think that a particular symptom is related to your injury, but it might well be. Leave that conclusion up to your doctor.
If you think your doctor is failing to address your concerns – Put your thoughts in writing. Compose a straightforward letter that honestly describes the pain, symptoms, or limitations you are experiencing. Keep a copy for your records. Your doctor should place this letter in your medical record.
You have the right to choose another doctor – Remember this important fact: If your employer has provided you with a list of doctors to treat you, it’s likely that your employer has handpicked them for a purpose. Employer-chosen doctors tend to minimize the extent of work injuries, the level of disability, and the amount of medical care required to reach the point of maximum medical improvement. A workers’ compensation attorney can help you get another doctor who can objectively evaluate your injury and prescribe the treatment regimen that is right for you.