I’ve written before on this blog that we are lawyers, not doctors. We have a lot of experience with all sorts of medical issues, but we’d never try to give you medical advice. I might say, “That sounds like carpal tunnel” if you tell me your wrists are numb and hands are tingling. If you have shooting pain going down your leg from your lower back, I’d likely tell you that it sounds like a herniated disc and I’d recommend you see an orthopedic doctor ASAP.
What I wouldn’t do is expect you to assume my medical opinion is right and while I’m always happy to recommend a physician that I think is reputable, I’d never insist you see a certain doctor.
Unfortunately there are a lot of doctors and physical therapists who have built their businesses by reaching out to lawyers and getting them to send their clients to their facilities in exchange for referring patients to the lawyers. It’s a tit for tat situation that does not benefit the clients at all. When a lawyer has 50 clients seeing the same doctor, he’s going to look out for the doctor over the client, especially when the doctor is a referral source.
I recently heard about a Chicago workers’ compensation law firm that gets involved with this shady practice. A defense firm noticed that on most of their cases, the workers were being sent to a certain medical facility. It’s not as if they were going to Rush or Northwestern or a place like that, it was a facility that none of the lawyers had ever heard of. They put two and two together and now are looking at fighting many of these cases based on the assumption that the opinion of the treating doctor can be proven to be not credible.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. When I first started practicing law there was a doctor who essentially was a professional testifier on behalf of injured workers. His medical reports all looked the same and he lost all credibility at the Illinois Industrial Commission (now known as the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission). Eventually that doctor was arrested for Medicare fraud because he wasn’t just (allegedly) being dishonest with work comp cases.
The point is that if your attorney is insisting you see a certain doctor it’s often a really bad sign and I’d question why they care who you are going to for care. Most attorneys, even the bad ones, are well intentioned and wouldn’t do this, but a handful operate this way. It’s dangerous for you and your case. You could end up losing or having benefits delayed just because it appears something shady is going on.