It is not uncommon to switch doctors during the course of medical treatment. If you are unsatisfied by the care you receive or the availability of your health care provider, switching doctors could make sense. Many people also choose to switch doctors when their insurance coverage changes.
While you have the right to switch doctors while pursuing a personal injury case, doing so could have a harmful impact on your case. Additionally, changing doctors could cause your own insurance to refuse to cover your additional treatment. It could be in your best interest to discuss your options with an attorney before switching medical providers.
Allegations of Doctor Shopping
If you change medical providers during the course of a personal injury lawsuit, you could face accusations of “doctor shopping.” Doctor shopping occurs when a person involved in an accident does not agree with the diagnosis of their original doctor and changes care providers until they get the diagnosis they want.
Doctor shopping could occur when a person continually seeks new doctors until they receive a diagnosis that is likely to result in a case for compensation. This could involve finding a doctor that will identify medical issues that could require extensive treatment.
It is important to remember that changing doctors during a personal injury lawsuit does not automatically mean a person is doctor shopping. However, the insurance company for the at-fault party is likely to claim changing doctors for any reason is an effort to manipulate a personal injury case.
Valid Reasons for Changing Doctors
There are times when changing doctors is valid or even necessary. This is especially true if you have followed the care plan provided by your doctor for a substantial amount of time without showing any improvement. In these cases, it is not uncommon for doctors to refer patients to specialists in an effort to improve their condition.
The important thing to consider about these referrals is that they are designed to provide you with a different type of specialized care than what you are already receiving. If your new doctor follows the same treatment plan as your current doctor, it could be damaging to your case.
Doctor Shopping vs. Second Opinions
Any implication that you are doctor shopping could work against you. However, there are many reasons to speak to another doctor other than your original provider. One of the most important reasons involves seeking a second opinion.
You have the right to seek a second opinion regarding proposed medical treatment. Doing so is important, especially if you are considering a major surgery or other procedure. These procedures can have a significant impact on your life, so it is important to be certain that going through with the treatment is in your best interest.
Often, seeking a second opinion will result in the second provider concurring with the decision of the first. That will not prevent the insurance companies from suggesting that you are doctor shopping. These accusations cannot prevent you from receiving the medical care you need.
At the end of the day, seeking a second opinion is a medical issue—not a legal one. It is vital that you seek out the medical treatment you need. While you focus on your medical care, your attorney could ensure that your case is protected.
What Is an Independent Medical Exam?
An insurance company might request that you submit to an independent medical exam. This is especially common in cases where insurers allege doctor shopping has occurred. An independent medical examination is done not for your medical needs, but instead to confirm your diagnosis.
The doctor performing the exam is hired by the insurance company, which means they are not on your side. It is important to go into these exams prepared, and your attorney could ensure you are ready. In fact, some attorneys agree to attend an independent medical exam along with their client.
Talk to an Attorney About Your Injury Case
Ultimately, whether or not you switch doctors while pursuing a personal injury case is a medical issue. You should take whatever steps are necessary to give yourself the best chance of a full recovery. If that means switching medical providers during a personal injury case, it is important to do so.
An experienced attorney could ensure that your change in medical providers is properly documented. This could protect both your rights and your health. Avoiding allegations of doctor shopping could put you in the best position to recover compensation. Let the attorneys at Brown & Barron advise you on how best to proceed. Reach out as soon as possible for your free consultation.