Saturday, January 12, 2008

Deposing a Treating Physician - Part One

If you are defending a personal injury matter, the time will come when you will depose one or more of plaintiff’s treating physicians. Before you depose them, consider the following:

Should you set the deposition? Before you depose a treater, you must first decide whether you should depose him. In reaching this decision, ask yourself: Do his records support your case? Do they advance your case themes? Do they contain admissions by the plaintiff? Are his notes illegible, requiring a deposition to understand them? Does plaintiff list him as an expert? Do you expect him to testify at trial? Remember, that by deposing a physician, you are preserving his testimony, so have a good reason for doing so.

Learn the Medicine. If you decide to depose a physician, procure all of the plaintiff’s medical records and prepare a medical chronology. As you review the records, learn the medical terms you come across and learn how to pronounce them. You can use online medical dictionaries such as:

In addition to learning the terminology, learn the medical conditions at issue. Review medical texts and medical journal articles and use online sites such as:

Invest in yourself, and purchase several texts to facilitate preparing for medical-related depositions, including a medical dictionary, the pocket physicians desk reference and the Merck Manual. If you depose psychologists and psychiatrists, procure DSM-IV.

In the next installment, we will address how to investigate the background of the treating physician and what to bring to the deposition.

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