Doctors play a vital role in a patient’s compensation claim. This note is for GP’s treating work or motor accident injuries
From recognising related injuries during a first consultation to fulfilling documentation requirements for claims, doctors can enable patients receive the compensation and treatment they require and return to work.
This blog post has been created for doctors treating work or motor accident injuries. It may also be useful for patients looking for advice on how a doctor can support their compensation claim
Why Doctors Need to Look Beyond the Obvious
Early identification of primary injuries and secondary injuries is vital to your patient’s chances of getting back to work. Yet it’s common that an injured person will not realise the full extent of their injuries from an accident.
Days, weeks, or months after (for example) a fall that resulted in a broken leg, they may complain of a lower back injury, yet not link the cause of this to the same incident.
This lack of connection can be caused by pain medication, which blocks your patients’ ability to recognise where pain is coming from. Equally, the patient, other carers and medical professionals are focussed on the most serious or painful injury, so may miss related issues.
Yet, once the ‘most serious’ injury heals, your patient is left with the painful related injury. In our example above, the patient’s broken leg has healed, but their quality of life is seriously impacted by the painful, ongoing back injury.
Added to this, they may have limited finances caused by taking time off work. This may be impacted further still if an insurer refuses to pay for further investigation or treatment into an injury the patient hadn’t previously notified them about.
The result? Your genuine patient may appear to the insurer like they are “trying it on”.
How Doctors Support Compensation Claim
Failing to investigate and update the evolving health issues which flow from the incident can have dire consequences down the track. Ignoring a patient’s complaints about unexplained knee pain/back pain/neck stiffness (which may have a relatively simple fix if identified early) is doing them a disservice.
This is where a doctor plays a crucial role in diagnosing all the issues caused by an accident, especially those that are not immediately obvious.
What you can do to help your patient get back to work.
1. Identify the mechanism of injury properly. Take time to listen to how it happened and record it properly. This will save you having to go back and explain it in a medico-legal report 6-12 months later. For example, “Slipped and fell. Back gave out” is entirely different to “back gave out, causing slip and fall”
2. Don’t just cut-and-paste notes from the previous visit. Note evolving issues – things getting better, things getting worse, new issues arising. Take two minutes to record it now and save two hours explaining it in a report later.
3. Question your patient about pain anywhere else in their body that wasn’t there before the incident. Help them to understand the affect of altered gait and posture so they can resolve the problem efficiently and get back to work earlier.
Also, be sure you know the requirements for certificates for workers’ compensation and motor accident claims. If you’re unsure about what’s required, talk to us – we’ll be happy to let you know.
Follow these steps and you can save your patient a lot of stress, worry and complications in liaising with their insurer. It may also save you the frustration of being questioned by the insurer later too.