Not too long ago, to get PI patients you had to take the lawyer out for a fancy steak dinner, buy him a nice holiday gift or take him to a ball game, so he would "remember you" when a new client came into his office. That "game" worked for many years, but no more, so don’t bother wasting your money, time and effort. Next came the "you refer to me and I will refer to you" game. That game is almost gone as well.
If those don’t work, then what does? If your work is not admissible and you have deficient credentials, then the lawyer can’t prevail in his cases with you, so why would he want your referrals only to lose the case at the end of the day? He DOESN’T! It is actually more difficult today for the personal injury lawyer than it is for the doctor to earn a living in much of the country and lawyers are now only willing to work with credentialed doctors whose work can be admitted into testimony. Otherwise, they will lose their cases before they get started.
What does all of this mean? Let’s break it down:
Credentialed doctor: In order for a doctor to testify on their findings, they have to be considered an expert. In order to be an expert, the doctor has to have the credentials of an expert. Your Doctor of Chiropractic degree gets you to the plate, but in today’s competitive environment, the lawyers have many choices; do they work with a neurologist, orthopedist, anesthesiologist or you? Although many lawyers like the medical specialists, they usually see the patient once or twice and do not understand the continuity of care, or the functional losses the way the DC does, as we see the patients more often. That is a huge advantage if the DC also has the post doctoral credentials and knowledge base in the following areas:
1. MRI spine interpretation
3. Triaging the injured
4. Crash dynamics
5. Impairment rating
The above 5 areas are the basic credentials (with the knowledge base behind it) that a lawyer would need to certify you as an expert in most cases and put you ahead of the competition. In other words, the only way you are going to have a PI practice that will last for your entire career is if you are the best-of-the-best through clinical excellence.
We often see continuing education as a necessary evil, but we couldn’t be more wrong. We need to take courses that go beyond technique, nutrition and wellness. I’m not saying those are unnecessary, but they will not give you the credentials or knowledge base to manage the trauma/personal injury case.
Would you want to go to a general medicine practitioner for open heart surgery? Of course not, nor does a trauma patient want to be cared for by a wellness practitioner who has limited knowledge in trauma care. Ask yourself this question: "What is the slice thickness that the MRI company takes of your patient’s cervical spine and what should it be?" If you do not know the answer then you are not a trauma specialist and that answer matters greatly in getting an accurate read.
Unless you have credentials in MRI, it is unlikely that you will be able to testify on MRI. The lawyers know that without those credentials, they will have a much harder time using you to settle a case, making you a very poor candidate to work with. That also means that if you refer a patient to the lawyer, it is likely that he will be forced to go behind your back and refer your patient to another doctor because he cannot prevail with just you. Referrals no longer guarantee referrals back if the lawyer cannot use you.
Lastly, unless your credentials are in an admissible format , like in a curriculum vitae (CV), the lawyer cannot work with you. If lawyers are not regularly asking for your CV, then they are not considering you as an expert. Every doctor in the nation should have an admissible CV, whether he does personal injury or not.
Next month I will discuss the narrative report.
Dr. Mark Studin is a consultant and educator. He teaches how, through clinical excellence to build PI practices and can be found at www.teachchiros.com. He is also the creator of the US Chiropractic Directory that hosts the world’s first CV builder for chiropractors and offers that for free to doctors of chiropractic and can be found at www.chirodirectory.com.