Treatment vs Over-Treatment: Knowing the Difference

Jay Stillman

4 min read

By Stillwaterising (Modified) [CC0], via Wikimedia CommonsYou probably know that your first step after you have been in an accident is to get medical care. Stillman and Friedland regularly counsel new clients to seek treatment as soon as possible after an accident. The value of seeking immediate treatment is getting an initial point of medical care right after the accident. It is how you neatly link subsequent treatment to this specific accident. In many cases, symptoms take time to surface after a trauma, so the fact that you seek treatment right after an accident is valuable to your case.

What treatment steps continue to add value to your case and your health, and which do not? We will look at your follow-up treatment with pointers about cost of care, the need for treatment, and the pitfalls of over-treatment.

The point of your case is to get fair and proportionate reimbursement for injuries, pain and suffering, and lost wages. The cost of treatment and work time lost are the yardsticks for compensation, but they must be commensurate with the severity of the property damage as well. We have seen clients who were literally suckered into excessive treatments when the accidents were little more than fender-benders. This can happen with health care providers who encourage the client to run up big bills in the tens of thousands of dollars—all with the promise that “the insurance will pay for it”; as the song goes, “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”

Overpaying for treatment will not make you look attractive to a jury either. The bottom line is that accidents are not a lottery opportunity, but a chance to cover most of your unavoidable losses.

See also: Case Value vs Treatment: A Basic Primer for Accident Injury Plaintiffs

What is a reasonable amount of care? This is a highly individual issue, and it is up to the patient to work with the doctor to arrive at the best solutions under often-difficult circumstances. There are several factors that work to solve injuries:

  • Time
  • Physical therapy or chiropractic treatment
  • Reducing inflammatory agents in the diet
  • Surgery
  • Pain management

Time can work to heal injuries. On the other hand, some injuries only appear later, especially in the case of neck and back issues. When that is the situation, waiting to settle your case will allow you the time to fully treat your injury.

Physical therapy and chiropractic treatment are often offered as long-term packages of sessions. If you feel treatment has fixed your issues or has made no difference, it is time to discontinue treatments. It is totally legitimate to seek another treatment provider if you feel your current provider is not helping you.

A healing diet which supplies your nutritional needs and does not cause inflammation can do much to speed your healing and ease your discomfort. We have covered this in previous posts and will have a follow-up blog on this topic soon. Adding an anti-inflammatory such as turmeric to your diet and reducing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) will also help speed healing. The benefits of a good diet cannot be underestimated. You may also be able to claim the cost of supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin if they are recommended by a health practitioner.

Surgery is a godsend when you need it and an unnecessary source of pain, expenses and lost wages when you do not. Always seek a second opinion before opting for surgery, and ask for referrals. A reliable source of surgical results information, workers’ compensation data, showed that back surgery often backfires and mostly leads to increased pain, not alleviation of symptoms. If you are surgically over-treated, you may end up with more pain. Having more cash in your settlement will be of little comfort when you have extra chronic pain.

Pain management should be temporary or occasional. The current, tragic epidemic of opioid addiction is proof positive that overtreatment with pain killers kills people. Use of heavy-duty painkillers is legitimate right after an accident or surgery, but is never a legitimate long-term strategy. If you have continuing pain, you need to solve or reduce the underlying issues causing the pain. Opioids do not resolve issues of incorrect use of back and joints, or the inflammatory effects of bad diet, or poor healing due to smoking.

Your health care provider should work with you to find effective solutions. Racking up large bills to pad your case is an inferior and potentially harmful strategy that generally backfires. You may get stuck with the bills yourself or your health may be compromised, or both. Always opt for only what you need and be attuned to your own well-being. Work to resolve problems at the source and avoid unnecessary surgery and potentially dangerous drugs.

Stillman and Friedland wish you complete healing.

Because we care…