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Be Truthful with Your Doctor

I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

We have another podcast episode that stresses the importance of being accurate and truthful with your doctor about the medical condition that brings you in to see the doctor.

But we focus this podcast on the consequences of a patient not being accurate and truthful with her doctor.

We had a woman client who suffered a serious work injury when she fell and twisted her knee. She told her supervisor and asked to be taken to the emergency room, but the supervisor declined. The supervisor had her complete her shift. Even though she had knee swelling, her boss said he didn’t care and insisted she do her job or be fired.

The next day things were worse, and she took a sick day. She then asked her boss to open a worker’s comp claim. He refused. He again told her to get back to work or she’d be fired.

I’m going to interrupt this episode to say that the woman had the right to pursue a work comp on her own without the permission of her boss. But this podcast is about being truthful with your doctor, not about how to make a work comp claim.

Now back to the episode. For some reason, the woman was deathly afraid of losing her job, so she kept working even though she was in a lot of pain and had a noticeable limp. She kept this up for about six months before deciding to see an attorney.

A couple times during those six months she went to an urgent care, but she never ever described what happened to her at work. Whenever she talked to the doctor, she would just simply say she had knee pain, and she didn’t know why the knee hurt. In other words, she was not truthful with her doctor.

When we asked her to explain why she was not truthful, she just kept saying she was afraid it would get back to her boss and she would lose her job.

If you’re wondering does any of this, make sense, we wondered the same. And that’s the problem.

A jury, or work comp hearing officer, will also wonder the same.

It goes against common sense, to be hurt and go to a doctor and hide the fact of how you got hurt from the doctor.

At that point we counseled her she needed an attorney to file a worker’s comp claim for her. But, by not being truthful with her doctor, she gave the employer a ready-made defense to argue that whatever was going on with the knee, it was not work related.

It gets worse. When her doctor is questioned about what caused the injury, the doctor will have to say that rarely do patients not tell them precisely how they thought they get hurt. The doctor will have to say that this woman came in repeatedly and had multiple opportunities to tell her injury story, but she did not ever mention one time falling at work.

Of course, we always counsel people to be truthful and accurate with their doctor. The primary reason is to make sure the doctor knows the mechanism of your injury so that proper treatment can be prescribed.

But it also is extremely harmful to any legal claim you might have to fail to inform the doctor of the circumstances of your injury.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”