I like to tell my injury clients that their doctors are the most important witnesses in their cases.
When a case is large or complex, I tell my clients that we can hire expert doctors, but treating doctors tend to have greater credibility with a jury since they 1) are not paid to provide opinions (even though most demand payment to testify); and 2) have actual “hands-on” contact with the client/patient.
Problems arise, though, when doctors do not chart well. Frequently, doctors will leave certain patient comments or complaints uncharted. Often, doctors simply record a statement incorrectly.
I was in a deposition the other day in which defense counsel showed my client a medical record from a treating doctor that indicated that he had been doing stunts on a motorcycle shortly after the accident. In reality, my client, who didn’t own a motorcycle, had attended a stunt motorcycle show.
It’s almost impossible to ensure that a doctor charts correctly. Similarly, getting a doctor to change a chart entry can be a recipe for an even bigger problem since many doctors will chart that you asked them to change a chart entry. Changed entries always draw suspicion.
When you see your doctor, make sure that you communicate your complaints clearly, repeat yourself and emphasize primary complaints.
Any thoughts on other ways to ensure that a doctor charts accurately are welcome.
Steve is the Managing Shareholder of Steven J. Klearman & Associates, a civil litigation law firm located in Reno, Nevada. He practices primarily in the areas of civil litigation and injury law, and has authored one of the definitive guides to Nevada civil law that is widely used by Nevada judges and attorneys, his book entitled Elements of Nevada Legal Theories.