This article is for medical providers who have been called in to give a deposition on a workers’ compensation case.
Why do depositions occur in occupational medicine?
Sometimes a work-comp case requires a doctor’s testimony. Workers’ compensation courts prefer that this testimony be given in the form of a deposition. All this means is that an attorney asks a doctor a series of questions.
Here are some common questions attorneys might pose to a doctor who has examined an injured worker:
- What are the doctor’s conclusions about the work-related injury? What medical literature supports them?
- Has the doctor calculated the impairment rating correctly according to the AMA Guides?
- Why is the doctor recommending a certain treatment plan?
- How did the doctor obtain certain measurements related to the worker’s injury?
- What are the doctor’s qualifications and experience for treating the injured worker’s condition?
- What are the medical community standards for treating this condition—e.g., in the ACOM guides?
In general, the more thorough your workers’ compensation reports, then the less likely you are to get called in for a deposition. If you cite all of your sources, justify all the medical treatments that you suggest, and demonstrate how the injured worker’s impairment rating was calculated, then most attorneys will have little reason to call you in for a deposition.
That being said, you can write the most complete permanent & stationary PR-4 report possible, and you still might get asked for a deposition.
Common problems with depositions
If you’re a medical provider and you are being asked for a deposition, then you’ve probably received a letter that requests your presence at a particular place and time, such as a law office.
Depositions are notoriously difficult to schedule. Traveling to a law office takes time out of your day. In my experience as medical provider, the proposed time for a deposition virtually never meshes well with my schedule.
Finding a time that works well for the provider and the law office can be a hassle. Sometimes it involves a lot of phone tag, emailing, and rescheduling. If it gets dragged out too long, then the lawyer has a right to subpoena the doctor; however, the doctor also has the right to submit a “motion to quash.”
How to make time for depositions
Depositions can take place outside of business hours and on the weekend, which should free up your calendar. When I’ve been called in for depositions, I try to reschedule them for the evenings. This way I can still see my patients during the day.
What many doctors don’t realize about depositions
Recent telemedicine laws allow depositions to be performed on the phone or in a video conference!
You can use Skype or some other convenient online meeting tool to attend a deposition at your convenience.
To learn more about depositions, check out our video on Understanding Depositions.