Most doctors who testify on behalf of defendants (and for all intents and purposes, insurance carriers) are engaging in a lucrative enterprise that barely resembles the practice of medicine.
These doctors generally have their own medical or hospital practice and are supplementing their incomes by examining plaintiffs solely for the purpose of litigation.
They are initially paid a handsome sum of money to perform a court-ordered examination. It is clear that no patient / doctor relationship exists. They have a waiting room filled with other plaintiffs and have barely any diagnostic (if any) tools in their office. (Frankly, to call it an “office” offends any notion of clinical objectivity. They are usually held in a bare-boned office suite with no indication that it is a “medical office.”)
Some quick points on how to cross examine these hacks:
- Do you research on the status of the doctor’s medical license. Recently I had a trial in which the defendant’s doctor, a Harvard trained orthopedist, was suspended to 36 months by the Department of Health for illegally dispensing Oxycodone and Fentanyl to patients that he never bothered to examine!) You might be surprised to find that a doctor has been sanctioned (or worse) for past indiscretions. Peruse through the NYS website and focus on the status of their licenses.
- Look at their “IME” Report – look for the absence of information (e.g., the full breadth of the plaintiff’s treatment may be missing, MRI, EMG, CT Scan reports that may not be mentioned). Also look for incorrect information (e.g., date of birth of plaintiff, incorrect diagnosis, spelling of names, etc).
- Hone in on their lack of “Patient / Doctor Relationship” and focus on their relationship with “defendants’ representatives” (viz-a-vis, insurance companies); Focus on their love of money versus compassion for a patient.
- Accentuate their findings that help the plaintiff (e.g., patient has treated for 2 years with pain management, patient taking narcotics for pain, patient exhibited positive findings during their clinical testing, etc).
- The NYS Trial Lawyers Association has a library of transcripts from prior trials and hearings on many of these hacks – It is worth the investment to purchase these transcripts and even more fun to parade them around during the trial in front of the defense counsel).