A part of my practice includes performing medical legal examinations. In Florida, a form of these evaluations are called Compulsory Medical Examinations.
To briefly describe their purpose, If you are injured, then you can and will seek care from a physician. But, if you are then filing a legal claim against an individual or a business because of that injury, you are now a plaintiff in a potential law suit. The plaintiff’s physicians will provide reports on the medical status, and the relatedness of the complaints to a specific event. In fairness, the Legal system provides the accused individual or business, the defendants, the opportunity to have you examined by a Physician, mutually agreed upon by the attorneys involved. This is the gist of the Compulsory Medical Examination. These evaluations are similar in many ways to the standard office visit. The Physician will obtain your history of the complaint, ask you questions about any other medical conditions, and then perform a physical exam.
These Compulsory Medical Examinations differ in one very important aspect. The Evaluating Physician is not the treating doctor. The evaluating Physician cannot offer any advice or counseling.
There can be an atmosphere of angst as often the Examinations are professionally Videographed by the Plaintiff attorney. There may even be a court reporter hired by the plaintiff’s attorney to record every word of the examination. It is not the typical Doctors Appointment. The examination room can get crowded by the person claiming injury, Family or friends who accompanies the claimant. There may be the plaintiff Attorney. Then, there is the videographer, and a court reporter. That is a lot of people in a room that is typically no bigger than 12 feet by 13 feet.
During this COVID-19 pandemic, there is no way to both examine an injured person, while having everyone in the room, and not violate recommended social distancing protocols.
Thus, My practice has converted our Medical legal evaluations to a Telemedicine structure.
If you are going to have a Telemedicine evaluation, I suggest you wear a t-shirt, and if you have issues with your legs, shorts. I require you to sit in a chair during the evaluation, but during the telemedicine evaluation, you will also need a device such as a smart phone or computer than can visualize your ability to walk, bend your neck and back, and do things like standing on your tip toes, squatting and waving your arms around. I would also ask you bring a paper clip or a sharp pen, which will be used to feel for sharpness. While not every aspect of the hands on physical exam can be performed, a persons functionality can be evaluated. Medical legal Opinions can be offered based on this video evaluation.
I perform these Compulsory Medical Examinations at requests of Attorneys. But during this Pandemic, any direct human to human contact is a risk. Because I am not providing care to the person I am evaluating, there is no advantage to an in person visit to the plaintiff, while the potential risks are unknown.
Because these evaluations are needed for processing of the litigation, these examinations are a necessary tool of the legal system.
Telemedicine Medical Legal evaluations provide a means for evaluation, with minimizing the risk to the plaintiff, the medical staff and the Physician.
While no one expects to get the infection during an in person evaluation, with this alternative, there is no need to take the risk.
These Telemedicine evaluations can be done as long as there is a computer that can connect to the internet with acceptable bandwidth.
For the comfort of the injured, as well as to satisfy the desire for the plaintiff attorney to videograph, or transcribe the visit, the Examinations can be performed in the Plaintiff’s Attorney’s office.
I offer these telemedicine evaluations for my regular patients as well. It is no longer a new and elective choice.
In this era of Covid-19 Pandemic, it is the prudent choice.
I hope this helps everyone understand the reason I am now performing Medical Legal Evaluations via Telemedicine.
AMA Guidelines on Telehealth Legal Evaluations: https://www.ama-assn.org/system/files/2020-06/virtual-medical-impairment-assessments.pdf
Last modified: December 14, 2020