Why You Need to Tell your Physician the Whole Story
As with many orthopaedic and spine surgery practices, we see many patients who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents or falls. There is often a lawsuit lurking in the background and the patient becomes more worried about what they should and shouldn’t say, than the actual care they are receiving.
It is totally understandable that a victim of an accident would be expected to be compensated for medical bills, loss of work and motor vehicle repairs by their insurance company or the insurance of the person at fault. Unfortunately many people feel they need to exaggerate their symptoms, or play down their recovery, with the idea that they would receive more of a monetary reward if they appeared to be more injured than they actually are.
Along with this mindset comes the tendency to hide previous accidents or injuries. Though this could have worked a long time ago, medical records are now much more accessible to subpoena, and hidden problems can immediately make a jury distrust the plaintiff. And that is only the legal repercussions of hidden information; the medical ones are much more dire.
While we use testing such as x-ray, MRI and CT’s for diagnosis, we rely heavily on patient history and examination for our diagnosis and treatment. As in any equation, we need to have all the information in order to come to a correct conclusion. If a patient had similar symptoms in the past, it is difficult to understand why surgery is now an option. Many injuries, especially to the spine, look much worse on films, and honesty between the patient and the physician is the only way to know what treatment is appropriate.
So, tell us the truth, the whole truth. If you are entitled to compensation, it generally works out. Without honesty, you could pay for unnecessary treatment long after a monetary reward is gone.
- Braddom RL, Spitz L, Rivner MH. Frequency of radiculopathies in motor vehicle accidents. Muscle Nerve. 2009 Apr;39(4):545-7. PubMed PMID: 19260059