Dynamic Chiropractic - February 13, 1995, Volume 13, Issue 04

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Book Reviews

By Steven Eggleston, DC

Title: Medical-Legal Issues in Chiropractic

Category: Doctor education

Authors: Stephen Foreman, DC; Michael Stahl, DC; Louis Sportelli, DC

Publisher: Practice Makers Products, Inc.

Publication: Hard-cover book, 177 pages

"Chiropractic has finally (and deservedly so) come 'into its own' and has begun to achieve the necessary scientific validation essential to recognition as an alternative method of primary health care." So writes attorney Melvin Belli in the foreword of this excellent book.

Don't be fooled by the title into thinking it is about malpractice (although there are two very good chapters on that subject). The main topic of the book is personal injury cases and how to do them properly so that you, the doctor, treat the patient well, provide the necessary paperwork (reports to attorneys and insurance companies), and are prepared to render deposition and trial testimony.

For example in Chapter 8, "The Pre-Trial Conference," you learn that you should always insist that your patient's attorney schedule a pre-trial conference with you. The purpose of this meeting is to establish exactly how the attorney wants you to help your patient's case. Here are some of the things to do during the pre-trial conference.

  1. Discuss the place and time for the trial.
  2. Put in writing the fee for your professional time and get paid in advance.
  3. Discuss the medical/chiropractic legal issues in the case.
  4. Determine the expected effect of the doctor's testimony.

Point #4 is very important. A trial is like a battle. The attorney wants you to win specific points for his side, not just randomly discuss chiropractic or even this patient's treatment. You must know what theory you are to prove with your testimony. It is you responsibility to also know the facts that support your opinion. Share these with the attorney before the trial. Also, be sure to discuss the weak points you see in the case so the attorney can be prepared to mitigate any damage when these points are brought up. You should also go over you deposition with the attorney during this meeting to discuss strong and weak points that were made during the deposition.

Finally, review the depositions of the other experts who will be testifying against you. Learn their strong points and discuss with the attorney how you will neutralize them with your testimony.

Other chapters are equally helpful when doing PI work, covering chiropractic records, narrative report writing, MMI, apportionment, depositions, direct examination, cross examination, the doctor-attorney relationship, and much more.

Drs. Foreman and Stahl have participated as expert witnesses in more chiropractic-legal cases than any other chiropractors I know. Their expertise is so highly regarded that they have not only been witnesses in superior and federal courts, they have also been retained as experts for both the district attorney's office and the attorney general's office in California. Dr. Sportelli is co-author of Risk Management in Chiropractic, former chairman of the ACA Board of Governors, and is currently a director at NCMIC.

This book is a must for every chiropractor doing any personal injury work. The knowledge you will gain from this book will increase you PI practice as attorneys find out that you are truly an expert doctor that knows the subtleties of legal work. Your reputation as the best doctor in town will increase your referrals from attorneys. I recommend this book highly for doctors and graduates preparing for licensure.

Eggleston Rating: 10