In the land of personal injury work, there is great opportunity coupled with great danger if you don’t do things well. On the opportunity side, there are few chances for chiropractors to get paid better for their work than in the PI arena. Of course, there is also the risk that your chiropractic PI work won’t be paid at all and perhaps worse, that you could end up looking foolish in front of your patient, attorneys and perhaps even a courtroom.
Unfortunately, the list of potential mistakes that inexperienced (or uneducated) chiropractors make can be quite long. But here are six mistakes that can easily sabotage your PI claim BEFORE you even touch the patient:
- Getting ER Records: If your patient visited the emergency room following a motor vehicle injury, it makes good sense to request their records to view any diagnoses rendered, diagnostic testing that was performed and/or treatment rendered.
- Pictures of Bruises: contusions can be a complicated issue, as they may be signs of a serious injury, temporary problem or they may help communicate information about the accident and injuries sustained at large if you document them. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is to obtain pictures of any bruises that your patient has sustained.
- Immediate Complaints: another challenging aspect of personal injury work is that at the start of care, you are not always able to determine with absolute confidence which “minor” complaints should resolve quickly and which may stick around. Documenting ALL of your patients immediate complaints following the injury, then, is the only reliable way to ensure that you don’t unintentionally leave out a significant problem or complaint that then rears its ugly and tenacious head later on during the course of treatment.
- Head Impact –traumatic brain injury (TBI) diagnosis and treatment has evolved significantly over the last decade or so and the impact of a potential TBI on your patient, your treatment and your claim can be huge. Of course, if you don’t document anything about head impact, you will have a much tougher time proving a TBI.
- Current Medications: documenting what meds your patient is taking seems like an simple and standard thing to do with any case type (and it should be). However, this practice becomes even more important in your chiropractic PI cases, as you may need to differentiate between medications that the patient was taking prior to their injury (and why) along with meds that they have been taking since their injury (and why). In that respect, the typical “laundry list” of all meds and/or the generic intake form that doesn’t give enough detail about medications doesn’t help you – or your patient.
- Pre-Existing Issues: often, pre-existing conditions are the elephant in the room no one wants to discuss. Failing to document pre-existing issues because you (or your patient) feels like it may jeopardize their personal injury claim is always a bad move on several accounts. First, I can think of no faster way to destroy your credibility (and your patients) than attempting to “hide” a pre-existing problem (if it were even possible). Secondly, there’s no need to. A jury can easily understand that a pre-existing condition can be easily exacerbated, as can a claims adjuster and even a computer. So, document pre-existing injuries carefully so that they can help your patient’s chiropractic PI case.
Why Six And Not Sixty Steps?
For chiropractors experienced in personal injury work, you are probably mentally making a list of other serious “sins of omission” that could also jeopardize your chiropractic PI claim. And I would wholeheartedly agree, there’s much more than listed here.
These six made the list because, in my mind, they are all easily preventable and their damage begins even before you do. And because of their simplicity, it is unfortunate that chiropractors miss them. What’s more unfortunate is that it is hard to imagine a jury, an adjuster, an attorney (or even your patient) forgiving these mistakes! Any one of these items, if important, should be documented properly and anyone could easily argue that your lack of documentation may be a sign that you did not feel they were important — which is probably not true at all!
No one is perfect. And amidst treating many patients, with many symptoms and many case management details, it’s easy to imagine that some things get missed. But if you avoid these six mistakes, you can at least be assured that you are not setting yourself up for failure from the beginning!
Looking to improve your Chiropractic Personal Injury practice? Consider attending one of our upcoming Chiropractic Personal Injury POWER Seminars where you will learn how to RAPIDLY improve your MVA coding, documentation, case management, billing and business strategies for a bigger, better, more profitable PI practice! Click the link above for more details and to register.