What Does My Doctor Need to Know About My Workplace Injury?
Your doctor needs to know how your work injury occurred, all your symptoms, even if they seem minor, and any changes to your condition, and get honest answers to his or her questions rather than speculations. After sustaining a work-related injury, it’s imperative to ask yourself this question: what does my doctor need to know about my workplace injury? Unlike visiting a doctor under normal circumstances, which doesn’t require you to think much about what you say, the information you give your doctor concerning your work injury will help form his or her opinion about your condition. What the doctor enters into your medical records will be considered in determining whether you will be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and how much you will receive.
When Do You Need to See a Doctor for a Work Injury?
You should see a doctor immediately after suffering a work injury or discovering an illness or symptoms that could have resulted from your job duties or toxic exposure, even if you feel your condition isn’t serious. Getting prompt treatment increases your chances of making a full and speedy recovery. Additionally, the closer your treatment is in time and proximity to your work-related accident, the stronger you will make your claim of your medical issues stemming from the workplace incident.
Some injuries like traumatic brain injury and neck, spinal, and back injuries can take days to show symptoms. A delay in seeking treatment could allow your injuries or illness to worsen and give your employer’s insurer more room to argue that your condition isn’t connected to your work. Delaying medical care jeopardizes your recovery and workers’ compensation case.
It’s also critical to follow all your doctor’s requirements and recommendations. You should follow the recommended course of treatment, take the prescribed medication, and attend all scheduled appointments. If you fail to follow the doctor’s advice regarding treatment and appointments, the doctor will note that in your medical records. Your employer’s insurance company may question the seriousness of your injuries and argue that you shouldn’t be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Nevertheless, you can change doctors or seek a second opinion if you are unhappy with your treatment.
What Should You Tell Your Work Injury Doctor?
Doctor visits are a critical part of the workers’ compensation process. Reports from your doctor will act as documentation for your injuries and the treatment required, affecting your eligibility for workers’ comp benefits and your claim’s longevity. Your doctor will help determine the timing of when you should be expected to resume work and whether your condition should be considered a permanent or temporary disability.
You will want to help your physician do his or her job effectively and ensure the success of your recovery and claim by always providing the right information. That requires you to find answers to the question, “What does my doctor need to know about my workplace injury?” Statements you make and things you fail to mention will determine what is entered into your medical records and can be used by the insurance company to reduce the compensation you get or deny your claim.
Below are some important things about your work-related injury that you should say to your doctor.
How the Injury Occurred
The first time you see a doctor after a work injury, tell him or her how your injury happened. Be as precise as possible as you explain the incident that led to your injury and the body parts that were affected. Make sure the doctor is aware you sustained the injury while performing a work-related activity.
Giving the doctor a detailed and accurate description of how you were injured will help him or her understand your current situation better, leading to a more accurate medical record and proper medical care.
Both Major and Minor Symptoms
Your doctor should know about all your symptoms, including the seemingly minor and fleeting ones. When talking to your doctor about your work-related injuries, you may only consider the condition or body part that hurts or concerns you the most and fail to mention the less severe symptoms. You should never downplay any symptoms.
For example, there are many delivery drivers at risk of dangers like vehicle collisions and slip and fall accidents while on duty. Suppose a delivery driver has an accident and fractures his or her ankle. When talking to a doctor, the driver may choose to focus on the fracture and leave out other symptoms like slight ringing in his or her ears or a minor headache or back pain. Unfortunately, the minor symptoms the driver considers insignificant may be a sign of something more serious.
Minor or seemingly unrelated symptoms could indicate that your injury is more severe than previously thought. Such symptoms could worsen over time. If these symptoms are related to your original work injury, they should be treated and covered by workers’ compensation.
The minor injuries you didn’t tell your doctor about will lead to disputes with the insurance company if they worsen later, and you seek benefits for them. Discussing all your symptoms and injuries with your doctor may help you get the necessary treatment to prevent your problem from becoming more severe. You’ll also avoid fights with your employer’s insurer when the minor issues worsen.
Changes in Condition
After establishing care with your doctor, your condition could change as time progresses. Make sure your doctor knows about any changes, such as:
- New symptoms
- New job restrictions or lifestyle limitations you are facing
- Treatment side effects
- Changes in the level or location of pain
Telling your doctor all your symptoms as well as any changes helps build a strong medical record.
Practical Explanation of Aches and Pain
When describing aches and pain to your doctor, it’s best to avoid overly generalized answers, as they could affect your treatment and claim’s credibility. Try to provide as much detail as possible and give examples. For instance, rather than saying everything makes your pain worse, you could talk about the movements or activities that alleviate or aggravate your pain, how and where the pain moves when you do particular activities, and how often you experience flare-ups of the pain.
Telling the doctor about your occasional twinges, numbness, or tingling would better explain your pain instead of using words like mild or moderate. You could also articulate your pain and aches by telling your doctor about their effects, such as sleep disturbances, feeling fatigued, and finding it difficult to read or talk.
Requesting a Note
Whenever you see a doctor after a work-related injury, you shouldn’t leave his or her office without a written note explaining you can’t work because of the injury. The time you lose from work because of the injury entitles you to receive compensation for lost wages. You will also need a note if the doctor gives work restrictions or clears you for light duty. Seek the assistance of workers’ compensation attorneys if your employer doesn’t accommodate the restrictions your doctor prescribes.
Your doctor will ask you several questions during your visit. If you are unsure of the answer to a question, tell the doctor this instead of guessing or saying what you consider he or she might want to hear. Speculating could cause problems for your claim.
How Can a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help You Prepare for Your Appointment?
Experienced workers’ compensation attorneys have handled numerous cases like yours. Considering the effect that what you tell your doctor can have on your workers’ compensation benefits, it’s a good idea to consult an attorney to help you choose your words carefully before going to your medical appointment.
A workers’ compensation attorney will help you develop the appropriate language to describe your work-related accident and injuries honestly and thoroughly to ensure the doctor understands the nature and extent of your injuries. Talking to an attorney will help you find out what not to say to your workers’ comp doctor and avoid costly mistakes like exaggerating, speculating, and minimizing pain and symptoms.
Medical records before and after a workplace accident can also leave a lasting first impression on a doctor. A workers’ compensation lawyer will help you present essential medical information to your doctor that will help support your case. A local lawyer can also refer you to doctors who will provide medical treatment or a second medical opinion and strong evidence to benefit your workers’ compensation case.
Asking questions can also help you make the most of your appointment. Your workers’ compensation lawyer will help you understand your legal rights, and the right questions to ask, such as requesting a copy of the medical records the doctor is preparing, to ensure you get the necessary information to help your recovery and the success of your claim. The lawyer will also answer any additional questions you may have about attending the doctor’s appointment, including “What does my doctor need to know about my workplace injury?”.
A workers’ compensation lawyer will help you through every step in pursuing workers’ comp benefits.