All medical providers know an accurate medical history is important. When it comes to treatment involving a personal injury claim, it’s even more important. It can be the difference in whether the provider gets paid and whether the patient’s claim is successful.
Most providers ask about pre-existing conditions when treating a new patient. It’s on most intake and new injury forms. The problem is many patients don’t accurately answer them.
It’s not that they are trying to hide anything. They typically are thinking in terms of their current problems from their injury, not fully understanding that any prior injuries or medical treatment is important for the provider to know. And, of course, prior symptoms or conditions are often unrelated to a patient’s current injury, but there is still an inconsistency in the chart.
Over the years we have discovered that it can be helpful to frame questions about pre-existing questions in different ways. When we ask clients if they have had a prior injury or treatment to their neck, they may say “no.” But, if then asked if they have ever seen a chiropractor or a physical therapist, they may say “yes” and explain that they hurt their neck in a collision or an on-the-job injury. A common response when we point out their inconsistency is: “Well, I have hurt my neck before, but nothing like this.”
The point is that questions that might seem simple and straightforward to the medical provider and claims examiners can be misinterpreted by patients.
While there is no guarantee you will always get the right answer, asking the question in different ways can make all the difference in getting an accurate medical history, protecting both you and your patient.