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What do you tell the doctor after a workers’ compensation injury?

First, always tell the doctor you were injured at work.  You also have to tell him how you were injured.  If your history in the first visit office note does not say your injury was work related, it will cause problems throughout the rest of your claim, and may lead to having your benefits denied.

The doctor’s office note is reviewed by adjusters, employers, attorneys, and judges. If the note does not mention you were hurt at work when you first visited the doctor, it is a lot harder to prove your injury happened at work.   Not only will this haunt you throughout the rest of the claim, it may even cause a denial of benefits.  If your medical records do not show your treatment was related to an injury at work, the workers’ compensation insurance adjuster has no reason to pay for the medical treatment.

Doctors usually write office notes in a certain manner. They usually first give a history of how the problem started. Then, they record the results of their physical examination, which describes your injuries.  Next, they record the results of any objective tests, such as x-rays or CT scans.  Finally, they state a diagnosis of what they believe is your problem.

You will usually never see these complete notes unless you request them.  The notes are more in depth than the slip of paper they give you after each visit. But, everyone else in your workers’ compensation claim (adjusters, human resource representatives, attorneys, and judges) will thoroughly review them and put a lot of weight into what they say.  Therefore, it is important that you mention to the doctors when you first see them that your injury happened at work.

Giving a history to a doctor is not easy.  I was not surprised to learn studies show doctors listen to patients for only 11 seconds before they start to interrupt:

There are a lot of reasons you only have 11 seconds to tell the doctor what happened, but it is probably because they have to see a large amount of patients in a short time. Nevertheless, you must make sure the doctor understands your injury was work related.

At some point, maybe years later, the doctor could be asked if he thought you were hurt at work.  He will not remember what you said in the first visit, but will refer to his office note for that visit.  If the note does not state you were injured at work, he will not remember you were injured at work and will say your problem is not work related.

Therefore, it is important that you mention your injury is work related at the very first meeting with any doctor.  Otherwise, it will cause you great problems in your workers’ compensation claim.