#4 MISTAKE: Not asking your patient enough questions about potential preexisting conditions

by | For Providers, Top 10 Personal Injury Claims Mistakes that are Often Made

QUESTION: How does thoroughly understanding your your patient’s preexisting injuries help with the care you provide and also help their personal injury claim?

ANSWER: Talking with your patient and getting information about their preexisting injuries is critical to their care and also their claim. Coming up with varied ways to ask your patient questions about their previous medical history will help you draw out the information you need to help them — and help you.

Not asking enough questions about potential preexisting conditions your patient may have is the fourth biggest mistake that can happen with your patient’s personal injury claim.

We all know how important our credibility is. You can be the most knowledgeable medical provider in your field, but if the insurance company is able to attack your credibility, that will do a lot to damage you — and your patients’ claim.

Protect your credibility by making sure you fully understand any preexisting conditions your patient has. No doubt you’ll have your patient complete a questionnaire about any prior neck or back injuries before you begin treating them. Even if they respond with ‘no’ to prior injuries on the questionnaire — and you also follow up and you ask them in person — and they say ‘“no” during their exam as well, it’s understandable that you would think you’ve covered getting information about your patient’s previous medical history. There’s more you can do to ensure you know what you need to know about any preexisting conditions your patient may have.

I’ve learned over the years that we all store and retrieve information differently. Which means sometimes it takes asking the same question in several different ways to get that vital information. When your patient does not give you the information you’re asking for – it’s not because they’re trying to hide it from you — it’s because the way the question was framed does not spark their memory or connect them with a previous injury they had.

When I talk to my clients, about pre-existing conditions, I start off with something like, “Have you ever had a neck problem?” They’ll say, “no.” Then I ask, “Have you ever seen a chiropractor?” “No, I haven’t.” I ask, “Have you ever injured your neck?” “Nope, never.” Then I ask, “Have you ever had any on the job injury claims?” “Oh yeah, I did!” I ask, “What happened?” They say, “I hurt my neck.” Then I ask, “Oh, did you get any medical treatment?” “Oh yeah I saw a chiropractor.”

This happens all the time.

It’s only by asking for this important information different ways, that I feel confident that I got the information I needed to know. Talking with your patient about their preexisting injuries and getting the information that is critical to their care and their claim is about coming up with varied ways to ask the questions, to help draw out the information that you need to help them — and help you.

Remember, your credibility is at stake and asking the same questions a variety of ways is an effective way to protect it.

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