The term "malingering" can cause you a great deal of problems if it appears in your medical records. If a judge believes that you are a malingerer, he will likely disregard much of your testimony and he will have an unfavorable attitude about you and your case. Malingering suggests lying and judges rarely award benefits to claimants who appear to be dishonest.
Physicians regularly employ a variety of tests to help identify a malingerer. Although these tests are not always accurate and can be rebutted, you are much better off doing everything in your power to avoid the malingering label in the first place.
Tests that physicians, psychologists and psychiatrists use to spot malingering usually fall into one or more of the following four categories:
- Effort tests – are your scores too low based on what prior tests have shown to be your capability?
- Pain scales – are you identifying pain in parts of your body inconsistent with diagnostic or clinical evidence?
- Symptom Endorsement – are you identifying too many symptoms, or symptoms inconsistent with your diagnosis?
- Waddell’s signs – physical actions that should not cause pain but elicit complaints. A classic Waddell test is the "distracted leg raise" where a patient has no complaints of knee pain when seated, but painful on straight leg raise.
As you might imagine, your physician will not necessarily tell you that you are being tested for malingering. Obviously, you should be completely honest and forthright with your physician – you want to create a physician-client relationship based on trust, not on trickery.
If you get the sense that your doctor has a bad attitude about you or is suggesting that you are being less than honest when you are telling the truth, report this situation to your lawyer at once.
[tags] malingering, workers compensation, workers comp, Waddell’s signs, symptom endorsement [/tags]
Attorney Jodi Ginsberg represents employees who are injured on the job and who need medical care and missed wage benefits available under Georgia's workers' compensation laws.
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