Doctor's PI Program
From the Desk of:
Mark Studin DC, FASBE (C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
“A New Legal Standard Has Been Set”
With this knowledge, you now have the competitive advantage.
Recently, I lectured to approximately 350 lawyers in New Jersey and as always, I spoke to most of the lawyers both before and after the program. This is a common practice, as this is where I learn first-hand about the needs of the lawyers and the courts nationwide. What I learned is that it is getting worse for the lawyers. This is not a New Jersey issue, it is a national issue, because it is the same story I hear nationally, only now it is becoming more acute.
In years gone by, the biggest issue was proving the causality, bodily injury and persistent functional loss and that we resolved by having an outstanding narrative. You still need an outstanding admissible narrative, but the lawyers are having a more difficult time than ever getting your reports admitted into evidence to allow them to argue those bodily injuries.
The carriers realize that doctors have gotten better in articulating the bodily injury issues. Let me clarify that; some doctors have gotten a little better, enough so that the carriers want to prevent that from becoming a trend. I believe that is a direct result of our clients nationally writing better reports because there are very few (almost none) in the nation who do it as well as you.
Once the carriers see a trend, they will press the courts in different areas to prevent having to pay out anything. You must remember this is a multi-billion dollar a year industry with more money at stake than most countries have. They will stop at nothing and understand that time is on their side; they have teams of lawyers, actuaries and strategists to perfect a system to perpetuate the profit machine that has been created. In other words, they are very good at what they do and if you had an unlimited budget, you would get better at anything you chose to do.
Credentials have always been an area that the carriers have used in the courts to prevent testimony and prevail in their cases regardless of the truth. It’s getting worse because the carriers have found sympathetic judges who are now mandating elevated standards to allow testimony. Part of my role as a consultant on a national level is to observe what is going on around the nation and prognosticate what will happen to you and your practice in the future. Here it is:
New Jersey, in 2013, wrote into law, for the first time nationally, that a doctor must show evidence through formal credentials, that they are qualified to testify as expert on different facets of their testimony. Meaning, if any doctor (not limited to chiropractic) in New Jersey is asked to testify on MRI’s, the doctor needs to show evidence of advanced training in MRI’s. Previously, as in all other 49 states, if a doctor had training in professional school that included imaging and advanced imaging, that would suffice. This is no longer true in New Jersey.
This legal matter is working its way through the court system in New Jersey and a landmark decision was rendered and further defined the law. Doctors must have formal credentials to testify or get evidence into testimony. This will now trickle down to the carriers who will boldly deny settling most claims if, on his/her CV, the expert does not have the credentials because the carriers know if it goes to court, the plaintiff (patient) will not prevail and they will not have to pay a large settlement. The legal battle between the insurance companies and the trial lawyers will continue to rage on for years over this issue. However, the blueprint has been set and will be coming to your state in one form or another. It’s only a matter of time.
How the “game” works is that the carriers pick a battle ground based on the amount of influence they have to tip the scales of justice in their favor. In this case, it appears that New Jersey was it. They already have the law enacted. Now it is up to the medical-legal community to play catch-up. The truth is, we have already lost because we have to play their game and not make our own rules because it is already LAW!
Once created successfully, this will propagate from state to state until it becomes the standard of the country, as they cite New Jersey as a model of what works. Yes, they will spin this to show how it is in the best interest of the people of your great state! Shortly…1 year, 2 years or 6 months from now, this will become the standard everyone in the nation has to follow because it means “uber money” to the carriers in the form of windfall profit by not having real findings being allowed into testimony.
Now, here is the good news…Yes, there is good news! YOU KNOW! With this knowledge, you have a HUGE advantage over everyone in the country.
The 350 lawyers in New Jersey and I discussed the MRI Spine Interpretation Course that the sponsoring doctors in the room took through www.teachdoctos.com. This course is certified by the New York State Department of Education and The State University of New York at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and carries AMA Category 1 credits, as well. The question was, “Is this an appropriate standard for testimony to be admitted?” The answer is a qualified YES. The preliminary cases have shown these to meet the minimum standard to allow testimony by a chiropractor or any other doctor to be admitted into evidence. This is your competitive advantage.
The lawyers also emphatically confirmed that the best calling card you have is your credentials through your CV. That is now the first place they look to see if they want to have a relationship with a doctor. That has become the key to all of their cases, as findings are no longer in play until the doctor shows evidence of formal training in his/her field. In the past, your CV was considered an important piece of the puzzle. Now it is the key that opens the pathway for everything else to happen. No CV, no referrals, as a rule. As a result, you need to watch over your CV and be diligent about updating it on a regular basis. I update mine every few weeks with additional credentials that I accrue in my career and you need to do the same.
This is also a wonderful calling card. No longer do you need to present your business card to lawyers. Send them your updated CV. Simply e-mail them or mail them a note saying, “I am attaching my updated CV for your records.” This is huge for the lawyers, as they will save the CV because without it they cannot prevail on most of their cases. It will get you seen. However, be very careful about what they see. The courses created for you online were specifically designed to meet the needs of the legal community from an admissibility perspective. What I learned last night in New Jersey is that those credentials just became more important than ever before.
Coming soon to a court near you, “No Formal Credentials - No PI Referrals.”