November 27 2018

The Importance of Your Family Doctor in Your Personal Injury Claim

Anyone who has been injured knows that it can be an awful experience. In addition to coping with pain and suffering, you may be worried that your symptoms might not improve. Furthermore, your injuries impact those around you. It’s never easy for those close to you to see you suffer, and they may experience feelings of helplessness. It’s important to everyone involved that you do whatever you can to heal and feel better.

If you are injured, the best way to help yourself and, those you love, is to follow the advice of your doctors and other medical professionals. In fact, from a legal standpoint, taking reasonable positive steps to ease your own pain and suffering is an extremely important part of obtaining full compensation for your injury claim. As a personal injury plaintiff you are required to try and reduce the severity of your injuries: this is a legal concept known as the duty to mitigate. The duty to mitigate and what this means to you as an accident victim, is discussed in more detail in our  blog post “Returning to Work After an Injury: What You Need to Know.”

 

Why are Family Doctors Important?

Your doctor plays a key role in your journey to recovery. There are many legal and personal benefits to having a family doctor involved in your case, including the following:

 

  • A family doctor will investigate all of your symptoms and conditions, and will be able to track your progress as you recover.
  • Most people feel comfortable opening up to and being completely honest about their medical problems with someone who is familiar.
  • A family doctor is often a patient’s first line of contact with the healthcare system and can help guide your self-care.
  • A family doctor can also help you access specialists and other needed caregivers who will assist in your recovery.
  • A family doctor who has been taking care of you for some time knows all of your medical history and can provide a complete picture of your health, instead of providing information on only your post-accident injuries.
  • A family doctor can provide the court with a great deal of insight about who you are as a person, and how you have suffered from your injuries.

 

What If You Don’t Have a Family Doctor?

Recognizing the value that a family doctor can provide to a person’s overall health and quality of life, Alberta Health Services launched and developed a website to help Albertans find a family doctor in their area. Patients looking for a family doctor should visit the website https://pcnpmo.ca. Once there, click on the tab titled “Alberta PCNs”. “PCN” stands for “primary care network.” From the drop-down menu, select the “Find a Doctor” option.

Another resource for Edmonton residents is edmontonareadocs.com; Calgary and area patients should go to calgaryareadocs.com.

These websites allow patients to search for a doctor in a location of their choice: close to home, close to work, or wherever is most convenient. The websites also allow patients to select doctors by gender, area of specialty, or, if a patient wishes, they can choose a doctor who speaks a language other than English.

Another option for Albertans who are seeking a family doctor is to call Alberta Health Link. Health Link is a three-digit phone number: simply dial 811. Registered nurses operate this phone number 24 hours a day. When you call 811, the nurse will ask you questions, assess your symptoms, and determine the best care for you. Calling Health Link can often eliminate a trip to the hospital, thereby allowing you to avoid long wait times sitting in an emergency room. The nurses at Health Link will also answer your questions about finding a family doctor or medical specialist near you.

Both the Health Link service and the “Find a Doctor” website are updated by Alberta Health Services regularly in order to provide the most accurate, up-to-date information available to Albertans. Best of all, these are free services for everyone in the province.

 

What Should You Keep in Mind Once You’ve Found a Family Doctor?

Once you find a family doctor that will suit your needs, make an appointment to meet them before you commit to being their patient. Remember, it’s very important that you feel comfortable with not only the doctor, but also the staff and the clinic. Treat your initial appointment like an interview to see if the doctor is a good fit for you. If there is something that you don’t feel comfortable with, you are under no obligation to continue seeing that particular physician. Simply start your search again until you find a doctor that you like and trust.

After you have selected a family doctor, it is important that you are completely honest with them about all of your health care concerns and medical issues: if the doctor is unaware of something, they won’t be able to properly treat you. Ask the doctor any questions that you have about your health and their proposed plan of action in regard to your health. Once a treatment plan is in place, follow it carefully and conscientiously. If you have questions or need clarification on something, don’t be afraid to ask questions of your doctor.

If you have been injured and have questions about how to obtain a family doctor or about your possible personal injury action, CONTACT CAM LLP for a free consultation.