In Colorado sending a personal injury patient for an MRI is now part of the standard of care (the baseline conduct to which the professional must conform to avoid being negligent) for plaintiff personal injury lawyers. This is so not only because of the usefulness of the findings in the claim but also due to toe serious risk of potential liability facing both doctor and lawyer should a latent problem be discovered after the conclusion of the claim that would have been detected had an MRI been conducted.
It matters not whether the MRI discloses Injury. Either result provides essential information for both the claimant and his or her lawyer.
If patient valve, if a claimant cannot demonstrate the injury in some objective way (by showing a disc injury, a meniscus or rotator cuff tear, etc.) he or she will be limited in the settlement negotiations with the claim adjuster in the amount recoverable for non-pecuniary damages. Since the insurer is already compensating the claimant as if the MRI shows no injury, an MRI finding can only increase quantum, but never decrease it.
Further tests or studies/pecuniary loss issues
The MRI may disclose a condition that may require surgery (e.g., full thickness rotator cuff tears, meniscus tears, nerve root impingements, etc.), which could greatly affect future care or work loss issues. Further, the nature of the injury may require specialized physiotherapy or referral on to other specialists for assessment, which also may affect quantum.
Demonstrative exhibit at mediation or trial
MRI is a computer-generated image and therefore can be very useful as a demonstrative exhibit at trial. An MR image can be enlarged to any size, colored in any manner, and be presented three dimensionally. With enhanced MR images, injuries can actually be seen, which is a very effective too! at mediation and trials.
Benefits of a result showing no injury
Peace of mind, sound professional advice
A result that shows no injury is a good result for your patient In practically all cases (with the notable exception of brain injuries), it means there will likely be no long-term effect of the injury for the claimant The claimant expects his or her symptoms will eventually subside and that he or she will recover. Not only is this good for peace of mind, it is also very helpful with claimants’ financial expectations for the claim.
It is also very important information for the lawyer. Once the your clients symptoms do subside, the lawyer will be in a better position to assess valve (without waiting the typical two or more years to see if something develops) and have the confidence to advise the client to sign a release (which forever compromises your patients right to compensation for the injury). For this reason alone, the MRI disbursement can always be said to be reasonable, necessary, and proper,
While most of your patients only get in one accident in their lifetime, there are some who are not as fortunate and are in two or more. It is not uncommon in such circumstances for the insurer to take the position that the injuries suffered in accident number two were in fact caused in accident number one, for which they have a release. However, if a claimant obtained an MRI for accident one he or she will have a snapshot of the area with which to compare the MRI results from accident two. This baseline MRI information will curtail this type of defence and allow each accident to be property considered on its own merits.
Both doctors and lawyers face the risk of negligence claims in situations where an injury that would have been detected by MRI but was not (as the MRI was not done) then manifests into a serious injury after the claim is settled and released. In such circumstances, the claimant is left only to sue the professionals. While this risk is currently relatively small, it can easily be eliminated by ensuring a scan is conducted prior to the final disposition of the claim.
Failure to send your patient for an MRI risks the possibility of a misdiagnosis, potential delays in the resolution of the claim and future liability claims against the professionals. The key to litigation-driven MRI is not that it is medically necessary, but rather that it is reasonable and necessary for the proper conduct of the proceeding. It is for this very reason the cost of the MRI is recoverable, and that when a lawyer MRI for his or her claimant, the lawyer is practising law, not medicine.