Direct Examination of Treating Doctor

In a personal injury case one of the most important witnesses is our client’s treating doctor. The best course is to call the doctor live. Unfortunately, often the doctor will resist leaving his practice to testify because of the significant time commitment. When this is the situation the next best course is to DVD the doctor at his office. In this post we discuss direct examination of the treating doctor by way of DVD.

Know the Doctor. Meet the treating doctor before the DVD direct examination. This should be done before the defense deposition. Before meeting thoroughly review client’s medical records including all records that predate client’s injuries. Go into the meeting with complete knowledge of the medical history of client. In the meeting cover any similar injury so the doctor is prepared to address it in the deposition and later during direct and cross examination. Cover the injury at issue.

Conference Before Direct. Meet with the doctor again before direct examination. As with direct examination of any witness tell him what will be covered so he has a road map. Preparation is important but not at the expense of spontaneity. Direct examination should be conversational rather than rehearsed. Remind doctor camera is the jury.

Outline for Direct Examination

When in doubt stick to who, what, when, where, why & how questions. Rarely will you go wrong with this formula on direct. Make sure doctor is testifying on a more probable then not basis on opinions concerning nature and extent of injuries as well as conditions caused by event at  issue.

Why Testifying? Begin by asking the doctor why he is here today. The first minutes of the direct examination are the most important. Thus, have doctor tell the jury he is plaintiff’s treating physician. He has been asked to testify on the injuries his patient (our plaintiff) sustained in the traumatic event, the course of treatment and how plaintiff is doing today.

Background. Name, address, medical education, association memberships, board certification (include teaching positions if applicable).

Nature of Medical Practice. Have doctor discuss type of patients he treats. Here you introduce the jury to the fact he treats traumatically injured patients, including patients with similar injuries to plaintiff. Also include questions about other areas of his medical practice. If doctor’s practice is limited to treating with no forensic examination component elicit this testimony. If there is a forensic component have him discuss the nature of this practice, and how it differs from a treating practice.

Treating Client. When did he begin treating client. If before injury what type of treatment. Cover pre- injury treatment or lack of treatment so jury hears pre-injury condition from you rather then defense during cross examination.

Treatment for Injury. Initial subjective presentation, examination (making sure you cover objective findings), diagnosis (making sure more probable then not caused by injury mechanism), and treatment plan.

Subsequent Follow up Appointments. Illicit testimony about all significant appointments. Make sure you cover subjective presentation and examination findings  (which is objective evidence of injury). Cover referrals such as physical therapy and diagnostic studies. Elicit testimony on any significant medical record outside of your doctor. Also have doctor explain to  jury significant diagnostic findings and how they were caused by the injury.

Necessity and Reasonableness of Treatment. Have doctor testify that all treatment he gave and referred has been necessary to address client’s injuries. Then get testimony that bills for necessary treatment are reasonable. Cover future medical care necessary to address continuing conditions as well as reasonable estimate of future medical costs.

Client Today.  Cover disability or impairment rating based on AMA Guidelines, impact on activities, impact on employment, pain and suffering (past, present, & future).

Conclusion. On a more probable then not basis is condition a result of the injuries sustained in our case (causation). Is client/patient an exaggerating faker or legitimately injured person dedicated to recovery.

    8 Responses to “Direct Examination of Treating Doctor”

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    3. Cal Lemon says:

      Good Information… thank you for the information.

    4. I really enjoyed this post. You explain Direct Examination of a Treating Physician very well. As treating doctors with Medical House Call we are turning back the clock. Medicine used to be practiced regularly on a personal level, before busy doctor’s offices, complicated insurance policies, long lines at clinics, rushed office visits, and crowded emergency rooms. Today many doctors have lost sight of what matters most- the patient. Doctor and patient need a truthful relationship which comes by taking the time necessary to discuss, examine, diagnose, and treat the condition. When our patient is injured and has a legitimate claim we need to cooperate with our patient’s lawyer. This means testifying. Your post helps to understand what will happen before and during direct examination.

    5. Really appreciate you sharing this blog.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.

    6. Cristen Harnist says:

      Im thankful for the blog article. Will read on…

    7. The clearness of your post is spectacular. Your RSS feed will keep me updated with forthcoming posts. Thanks a million and please keep up the rewarding work.

    8. Mike Leuckel says:

      Excellent post with some good info, think i’ll share this on my twitter if you don’t mind and maybe even blogroll it depending on the feedback, thanks for sharing

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