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When A Lawyer Refers You To A Physician

Posted Aug 19 2009 6:14pm
CNN is reporting this morning about a group of lawyers and physicians who allegedly conspired to inflate lawsuit damages by encouraging accident victims to undergo questionable surgical procedures. I don't know if there are attorneys in Chicago who refer clients to doctors for treatment. It would not particularly surprise me if there are. (I'm cynical that way.) But an attorney who would refer you to a doctor for a specific treatment is someone you should stay away from. Obviously, any physician who would go along with a lawyer's recommendation on treatment is also someone you should run from as fast as your legs can carry you. Doctors and lawyers who would participate in such an arrangement are simply not going to be at the top of the food chain. They will be the bottom dwellers who are likely to provide you with poor, if not dangerous, medical care and legal representation.

It needs to be made clear that an attorney can, and in some circumstances should, refer a client to a physician for medical evaluation. In order to get a clear picture of the full nature and extent of an injury victim's damages it may be necessary to send the client for noninvasive medical testing. Examples that come to mind are: MRIs to test the extent of a soft tissue injury, a neurological exam for the severity of nerve damage, and neuropsychological testing to determine the impact of a traumatic brain injury on cognition and memory. Sometimes a client's existing treating physician(s) will have already done this sort of testing. Other times more answers are needed. Understand that what I am talking about is not medical treatment. I cannot think of a circumstance in which a doctor and lawyer should conspire to provide treatment. If you are being represented in a personal injury or medical malpractice case by a lawyer that wants to refer you to a physician make sure you ask him or her why. A referral for evaluation and testing is perfectly acceptable and often advisable. A referral for treatment is not.
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