That’s kind of the playbook for emergency room. If there aren’t any broken bones, the doctor may decide they have what is customarily referred to as soft tissue injury. I don’t like that characterization. I don’t like to characterize tearing of muscles, tearing of ligaments as soft tissue injuries because when doctors talk about soft tissue injuries they’re talking about anything but the breaking of bones.
After an E.R. Visit, You Should Feel Free to See Your Doctor as Soon as Possible If You Are in Pain
If there’s torn ligaments or torn muscles and there’s pain associated with that, the playbook, the basically unwritten playbook for these ER doctors is, “Okay, go home. Take these medications. If you’re not better in two weeks, call your doctor.” It’s okay to follow those instructions if you want, but when two weeks rolls around, if you’re still in pain, you need to get to the doctor.
If one week rolls around and you’re still in pain and you feel like you need to see your doctor, you don’t have to wait for two weeks. If I get a client, a person that comes in and hires me within a few days of the accident and they’re still in pretty bad pain even though they’ve taken the medications, I recommend that they go back to the doctor or they get into their primary care doctor. Don’t wait the two weeks.
You Should Always Abide By the Doctor’s Instructions for Follow up Care
It’s situational. It depends on the particular person and their situation. If you need to you can continue to follow doctor’s instructions at a minimum. So if E.R. doctor says “Go back in two weeks,” you need to get back in two weeks, if you are still hurting. If you don’t get back in two weeks, if you wait four weeks because they’re too busy—that harms your case.
Insurance Companies Love Treatment “Gaps”
Because later on the insurance company insurance company lawyer can argue that if they were really in pain then you would have listened to the ER doctor and gone back within two weeks.
The other problem that comes up is what we call gaps in treatment. The insurance companies love it when there’s a gap in treatment. Let’s say somebody goes to the ER, goes home, and ends up going to their primary care doctor. The primary care doctor gets them into physical therapy.
Don’t Let a Busy Schedule Prevent You from Following the Doctor’s Instructions
Let’s say they have a few rounds of physical therapy, possibly six weeks each. After 12 weeks, they’re released but they’re still hurting. They’re told to wait a couple of weeks to see how they do and then call their doctor.
Well, after their 12 weeks of therapy, let’s say they don’t get back in a couple of weeks, but they’re still hurting. They may wait six weeks or eight weeks, because everybody’s busy. We all have jobs. We all have families to take care of. The last thing we want to do is go to two or three therapy appointments a week.
I’ve had clients that have been released from their initial round or two rounds of therapy. They’re told to come back in a couple of weeks to talk to their doctor if they’re not even better, and they wait two months. Then they can’t handle it anymore and they go back to the doctor. Now they have a two-month gap in treatment.
The Insurance Adjuster Will Use Any Gap in Treatment to Withhold Medical Bill Payments
Later, when I’m trying to negotiate a settlement with the insurance adjuster, the attitude of the adjuster is, “We’re cutting off all medical care after the initial round or two rounds of treatment. There is a two-month gap in treatment. They still weren’t hurting”.
“If they were hurting, they would have listened to their therapist or their doctor and gone back after two weeks. What did they do? Fall down the stairs. Something else happened where they got re-injured.”
Four or eight weeks can go by quickly, but it’s important not to allow that kind of gap in treatment. It’s important to continue to get the treatment that you need when you need it.