The Workers’ Comp Doctor: What to do on your first visit?

One thing that most clients don’t fully understand is that the medical records, in large part, drive the outcome of their case. If your workers’ comp doctor writes you a good report and relates your injury to the workplace, then there is a good chance you will “win” your case. If they don’t, then the opposite is true.

Accordingly, here are some quick tips for things you should and shouldn’t do when you go to see your doctor:

  1. If your case is accepted, the insurance company will send you to a doctor of their choice. You may not like this doctor. Don’t let them know that. Always maintain a good relationship with your doctor. If they like you, they will give you better treatment and write a better report for you.
  2. Prior to your first visit to the workers’ comp doctor, make sure to write out exactly what happened to you that caused your injury. Go over this in your mind over and over again. No detail is too small. During the first visit to the doctor, make sure you outline for the doctor exactly what happened to you and how in happened. Be meticulous – it will help your case later. Make sure to repeat the facts of what happened to you frequently.
  3. This kind of goes without saying – but don’t lie or falsify your symptoms. Many clients will do this thinking that it will help your case, but in reality, the opposite is true. If a doctor thinks you are exaggerating, falsifying or “malingering” about your symptoms, you will lose a lot of credibility with the doctor, and his report will show this.
  4. Understand that someday in the future, it is entirely possible that a Deputy Commissioner at the Industrial Commission will find themselves reading through your medial records. Don’t say anything to the doctor, or act in a way that you don’t want the Industrial Commission to find out about.
  5. Ask the doctor who it is that keeps notes and prepares the medical records. You will want to make sure that your medical records accurately reflect the visit.
  6. If you have an attorney, they will request your records. If you don’t, make sure that you request your records and review them to make sure they are accurate.
  7. Talk to the doctor about their opinion with regards to return to work restrictions. It’s better to have this conversation in the privacy of the exam room so that the doctor can understand how you feel about his opinion than to hear after the fact that the doctor has released you to work without restrictions without telling you this.
  8. Let the workers’ comp doctor know that you want to be present for any and all conferences between the doctor and any rehabilitation professional. If you choose to become a client of my firm, I will ask you to sign a document that lets the rehabilitation nurse know that you cannot waive this right unless they receive specific authorization from my office.
  9. With regards to the rehab professional – be sure not to make any disparaging comments about the nurse or the insurance company in front of the doctor.
  10. Never, ever, lose your temper in front of the doctor. If you are upset about your treatment, let your attorney know and we can request a second opinion with another doctor if it makes sense and would help your case.
  11. Make sure that the doctor does not treat you for any unrelated conditions at the same visit that you are being treated for your work-related condition. This may cause the Workers’ Comp insurance carrier to deny the claim, in which case you will have to pay for the visit yourself. If you need to see this doctor for an unrelated condition, make sure you schedule a separate, unrelated visit for that condition.
  12. To tape record or not tape record? Generally, I advise against tape recording visits with the treating doctor. By doing so, you run the risk of making them upset, which will show up in the medical records. And as I said before, the medical records will win or lose your case for you. However, there is one exception to this rule – if you are going to an independent medical exam requested by the workers’ comp adjuster. In that case, make sure to record the entire visit to show just how short and abbreviated the exam actually was. If you can’t tape the exam, at least make some notes about: how long the visit lasted, what the doctor examined, what tests were run, and how long the doctor examined you.
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