What Do I Tell The Doctor?

From time to time you will have to visit a doctor, or perhaps more than one doctor, in relation to your personal injury claim. It is fundamentally important to make sure that what you tell that doctor (or write on any form) is as full, accurate and detailed as possible.

In personal injury claims, one of the biggest problems we face is that when we receive a medical report, very often the situation is not fully described, or perhaps the doctor does not believe the patient. There are a number of reasons for this, and the following are some suggestions to avoid complications, misdiagnosis, or even rejection of claims of any type of illness or injury.

For all of us, going to the doctor is something of an ordeal, particularly so if you have suffered injury, and/or if you are suffering from pain.

To begin with, it is a very important to tell the doctor the whole truth, but DO NOT OVER ELABORATE OR EXAGGERATE.
Just answer the question simply, but fully and clearly.

Often, particularly in an interview situation, it is difficult to remember everything. Few of us have perfect memories; you may even be suffering from memory problems as a result of injury; or during the course of discussion, you may be led away from (and forget to return to) an important topic. For a doctor to assess and form an opinion as to diagnosis and treatment, he/she needs to have all of the facts.

We would therefore suggest that if you can, it is very good practice to make a list of all of the things that you wish to mention before you go. That way, you can make sure that everything you think is relevant, is covered. Be sure that you keep a copy of the note so that you can refer to it later if necessary, as a reminder.

It is fair to say that some doctors do not like this practice, perhaps because they feel this is contrived; however, it is your responsibility to explain your case to the doctor. If asked why you have written a note, simply say that you tend to forget things, perhaps because of injury, pain or medication, and wish to be sure your case is understood, and/or that you have simply been advised to do so by your solicitor. So, it is important to make sure that you mention everything that troubles you, but NEVER over elaborate or exaggerate. There may be a subconscious desire to make sure that the doctor takes you seriously, and this in turn makes it seem to the doctor as though you are over stating your symptoms. This will not help your case.

If the doctor feels that you are exaggerating symptoms, or simply not telling the truth at all, you may not receive a fair medical report for your claim, or the correct treatment; your claim may be completely undermined or even rejected.

A good example of this is that a patient may say “I cannot do…..” (for example bend over, lift, walk etc). For some, that may be perfectly true. However, what is generally meant, is… “I can do it, but if I do so, it hurts so much, and I am so disabled for the next day or two, that I try to avoid doing so whenever possible”.

This is very important. If the doctor thinks you are saying that you can never bend over, and are then seen actually doing so, then he is going to treat your claim with great suspicion. With any condition, it is important for the doctor, or whoever is being consulted, to believe your story.

The key therefore is to listen very carefully to any question which is asked, and to answer fully and clearly, but without exaggeration.

A few suggestions for a medical consultation, whether with a GP, a consultant, or a DSS assessor, or in relation to an injury claim you:-

a) Prepare a list of important points which you consider need to be mentioned;

b) Listen carefully to any question you are asked;

c) Give a clear account of any complaints you wish to make, but without exaggeration;

d) Take a friend or family member with you (if possible);

e) Take a note of your complaints ,and keep a copy of that note for future reference