Saturday, January 19, 2008

Deposing a Treating Physician - Part Two

In addition to learning the medicine, you need to learn everything you can about the doctor. Treat him like you would treat an expert witness and perform the same due diligence. When investigating a physician’s background, consider the following:

Prior depositions. Use expert deposition services, voluntary bar associations’ deposition banks and your own firm’s deposition bank to procure prior deposition transcripts of the physician.

Practitioner profile. Most states have departments of health which keep track of their physicians. They have information about the doctor’s education, training, board certification and disciplinary history. Procure a copy in each state where the doctor is licensed.

Physician’s website. More and more physicians have websites where they post their curriculum vitaes, their articles, their areas of speciality and testimonials from patients. Take some time to study the doctor’s website.

Advertising. Other than the website, review any online advertising for the physician and review the brochures he leaves in his waiting room.

Curriculum vitae. Review the physician’s CV and see where he went to school (did he leave the country to go to medical school), what he specialized in, what lectures he has given and what articles he has written.

Physician’s articles. Locate on Medline or elsewhere copies of the physician’s articles relevant to the plaintiff’s condition, treatment and prognosis.

Litigation history. Locate the clerk of courts’ sites in the jurisdictions where the physician practices and view the docket sheets of any malpractice suits naming the physician.

Once you have done your due diligence on the doctor, it is time to put together a binder you will take with you to the deposition. You will want to include in the binder: (1)notice of deposition; (2) return of service; (3) practitioner profile; (4) background search; (5) all impeachment materials; (6) all anatomical drawings you intend to use as exhibits; and (7) bate-stamped copy of the medical records. These will be your tools for the deposition.

In the next entry, I will discuss what to include in your deposition outline for the physician.

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