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Whenever You See a Doctor, Give a Complete Medical History

Jun 7, 2008
Think about it. You go to the doctor. The doctor takes a 10 second history, examines you for another minute or two, tells you what's wrong, tells you what needs to be done, and walks out before you can blink. Afterwards, you realize that you either forgot to tell the doctor something. While that may not be a problem for most people, it can be if you are involved in a workers' compensation, auto accident, slip and fall, or other personal injury claim. The defense attorney will almost certainly why you didn't tell the doctor everything - implying that you were being less than candid, or worse, making it up.

That's why you need to make sure you give a complete history to all doctors. Doctors do not always ask how an injury occurred or what you do for a living - but you should tell them everything - in detail. This applies to every doctor you see - your own doctor and the company doctor. That way, every doctor will be able to better tell you whether your condition was caused by your job or the accident you were, or by something completely different.

For example, if you injured your back at work, tell the doctor (and whoever else is taking a history of your injury, including nurses and physician's assistants) how you were injured, and describe your job. That means you should tell the doctor that your work involves lots of heavy lifting. If you do, then the doctor has more information to determine whether you are disabled from your particular job, from some types of work, or from all work.

Or, if you think you are suffering from exposure to chemicals at work, tell your doctors everything you have been exposed to and for how long. That will help identify the cause of your condition and allow the doctors to treat you appropriately. Also, pay attention to what chemicals are used in your job. Pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) and other federal laws and regulations, your employer is required, under certain circumstances, to label all containers of hazardous chemicals with warnings about potential health effects, including long term problems.

Once you have developed a history of what you have been exposed to in the workplace, provide this information to every doctor you see. This will help them and, therefore, you.

Remember, also, that, whether you are involved in a workers' compensation, auto accident, slip and fall, or other personal injury claim, the insurance companies involved will need complete reports from your doctors before deciding whether to give you workers' compensation benefits or to settle your case. Be honest about your past medical history -- because your credibility will be evaluated by the insurance company and, if necessary, by its lawyers, and others, including judges, juries, and workers' compensation judges. They all may be reading those physicians' notes later on.
About the Author
Philadelphia workers compensation attorney Jack B. Katz, who has been representing injured workers for more than two decades. Jack Katz concentrates his practice in workers compensation matters. His office is located at 1213 Vine Street Philadelphia, PA 19107. Email Attorney Jack B. Katz (jbk@jackbkatz.com) or Visit Attorney Jack B. Katz' website.
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