Academy of Chiropractic’s
Lawyers PI Program
From the Desk of:
Mark Studin DC, FASBE (C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
"Using Primary Care Doctors as a Value Added Service for Lawyers & Getting PI Cases"
Yesterday, a doctor from Michigan called with a great suggestion via a request from a local attorney. The attorney wanted this doctor to gather all of the pre-existing primary care medical records for his client. The attorney's concern was that he didn't want to be surprised by his opposition council with a pre-existing condition. What this means for us... If we, as treating experts, can do the legwork, the lawyers will appreciate it greatly for every case. Now, let's interpret the request.
When a lawyer says that he/she wants you to gather information, here is what he/she is really saying, "I am too lazy," or "I do not want to pay my staff to do the grunt work of gathering the data. In addition, I have to pay all those doctors for their records and I am a cheap bastard!" The reality is...so what?! If the attorney feels that you are "user friendly" in conjunction with your level of clinical excellence and admissible work, then you have just gotten on the "inside" and that is the goal of working with the legal community.
Last night, I lectured in Hartford, CT to a very articulate group of lawyers. During the lecture, as this question was fresh on my mind, I posed the question, "Would you want, as a matter of business, for the treating doctor to gather all of the previous medical records from the primary care doctors of your clients?" The answer was quite interesting; it was, "Yes and no depending upon the case and what my needs are specific to each case."
There are 2 things that come to mind when I think of gathering medical records from PCP's regarding past care. First, it is a lot of work and second, some will want it and others will not. Therefore, the solution is simple, powerful and meets everyone's needs; simply ask.
Offer the lawyer the option of having you gather all of the pre-existing medical records from the client's PCP for each case. First, it is a valid reason to call and chat with the lawyer and second, it will let the lawyer know that you understand his/her needs and are meeting them at every level. Either way, the lawyer will get on the phone. The request for the staff is, "May I speak with Mr. or Ms. [Name of Lawyer] as I have concerns of pre-existing issues on [his/her] case." The attorney will get on the phone as you are informing him/her that he/she might lose an entire case. When the lawyer gets on the phone, inform him/her that you are gathering all of the records and you want to know if he/she is concerned with any pre-existing issues that you do not know about. Does he/she want a copy of the previous primary care records?
It is ethical to acknowledge that the records are not needed in every case, but to offer the lawyers the option of having you gather the records for them if they feel it's warranted. The other side of the story is that if you feel that any previous records are pertinent to your care or diagnosis, it is a licensure standard in every state to gather all previous medical records.
Value added means that by working with you, the lawyer realizes that there are things that you bring to the table that add value to having a relationship with you. This is also a prime avenue for letting the lawyers know that you speak their language of admissibility. Another tool to becoming invaluable to the referring legal community.