In workers’ compensation we rely heavily on the opinions of the attending physician and treating providers. However, in order for an opinion to be truly valuable it must have a strong basis. In the legal setting, an opinion that is merely conclusory will generally not be given the same weight as an opinion that is well reasoned.
Chart notes often contain conclusory opinions, probably because providers are either in a hurry or don’t realize that a particular opinion may be terribly significant with respect to claim administration. However, I have found time and time again, that medical providers are generally willing to share their opinions and rationale when asked.
For all patients (although it is particularly important in workers’ compensation claims) I think it is crucial to maintain open lines of communication with medical providers. It is okay to ask a medical provider to share their opinion and it is okay to ask them to explain their opinion. After all, better informed patients can make better informed decisions.