Academy of Chiropractic Personal Injury & Primary Spine Care Program
Quickie Consult 903
Infrastructure 214 I
“Perils of Websites, Facebook, Politics & Religion”
“Abdication isn’t always the EASY BUTTON” Mark Studin 2018
Over the past month I have been recording a continuing education program on testifying, documentation and maintaining ethical relationships with a nationally recognized trial lawyer. During one of our lengthy conversations we touched on the significance of how the jury feels about you as a person. The following questions arise; are you a real person, are you empathetic toward your patient, are you relatable to the jury, are you a greedy Dr., are you a contributing member to your community, etc. Should all the above boxes not be checked off in a manner that will endear you to the jury, you will not be considered as credible as you should be and often not believed regardless of your testimony. There are other ramifications of this perception as listed below.
You get a subpoena in the mail that says you must show up for jury duty four weeks from today and no matter your displeasure you are compelled by law to participate. After sitting in the jury pool room for three hours your number is called and you are ushered into a small room. You are then interviewed by both the plaintiff and defense lawyers and asked a myriad of questions. By this time you are tired, frustrated and want to get the hell out. Unfortunately, you were picked as a juror on a personal injury case and one hour later you are hearing opening arguments from the lawyers. The case is adjourned for the day and you are instructed to show up tomorrow morning promptly at 9 AM for a continuation of the trial. The first witness to be called is you, the chiropractor to testify on the bodily injuries of your patient. No one in the jury knows you (as it is supposed to be) and prepares to hear your testimony. One hour later a recess is called by the judge and although you as a juror were instructed not to do any investigation on your own during the break, here is what most jurors do; they look you up on their cell phone to see who you really are and typically go to first your website and then Facebook.
On your website, you have “anti-vaccination” and “anti—drug” information along with aggressive personal injury marketing information and a two paragraph biography about how you love people and focus on accident cases. Your Facebook pages show you sitting on the hood of your new car, drinking cocktails on the beach at your last vacation and on the ski slope on the vacation before that.
When the juror re-enters the courtroom, they will now think of you as a “money hungry, social deviant” purely based upon a website you never proofed and pictures your friends and family took and shared with you on your social media that you never really paid attention to. According to many legal scholars, this is a typical scenario of too many doctors who work in the personal injury arena and will be the cause of that juror, who will also privately share this with the balance of the jury pool to consider you not as credible regardless of your testimony.
The lawyer will do the exact same thing as the juror and should they see the scenario above will strongly consider never working with you. If the above happened after the case started and after the lawyer vetted you and this came out at any point during the trial process not only will the lawyer not work with you in the future, but will share this with every colleague he has an opportunity to.
Future potential patients:
Guess what? They are going to see the same thing as the jurors and nobody wants to go to a “party boy” who is a social deviant based upon their beliefs on vaccinations and drugs to entrust the care of their spine. This is not an indictment or even commentary about your beliefs on vaccinations or drugs. It is how the public perceives you and it is in your best interest to do everything to ensure all “road blocks” are removed that will prevent you from succeeding in your goals as a chiropractor.
Should you have an agenda regarding vaccinations, drugs or any other controversial issues, I strongly urge you to do that outside of your chiropractic practice as those are not a chiropractic issue and will potentially (probably) hurt your practice. Another area to AVOID is publicly voicing your political beliefs. Although our 1st amendment rights allow us to speak freely, these are unprecedented times in our history and our country is emotionally polarized politically regarding candidates, elected officials, 2nd amendment issues and other “hot button” topics. I strongly want you to consider being “Switzerland” and not “turn off” the other ½ of the country that doesn’t agree with your political beliefs. For many, this is hard… for me.. I would rather treat twice as many patients and reserve my personal beliefs for my home, not my office. At work I only have 1 belief and one agenda… if your spine needs help, I am THE BEST DOCTOR FOR YOU!!!
It is my suggestion, that if a patient wants to talk politics in your office that you politely share with your patient that it is your policy that you do not discuss politics or religion in the office. At that time, you should bring the conversation back to their health issues and steer the conversation back to your purpose.
Mark Studin DC, FASBE(C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
Academy of Chiropractic