Jul 31, 2019 | Legal Journals, Litigation

How to Prepare For and Take a Doctor's Deposition

“Discovering anatomy” is really the key to under-standing the language of medicine. My view may be biased. Since I have some anatomy training, I tend to emphasize the importance of such knowledge. However, if you observe the most skilled medical cross-examiners, you will note their knowledge of the relevant anatomy of the case. The anatomy may be the only thing you need to know in an orthopedic injury case involving bones, muscles, nerves, and vessels. In other cases, the anatomy is the first step to fully understanding the physiology of the injury or disease. In every case, anatomy is the key to under-standing the language of medicine.

Understanding the language of medicine enables you to function effectively on the many levels needed in tort cases:

  • First, in conferences with your doctor, under-standing the anatomy from the beginning will enable you to move to the substantive issues more quickly;
  • Second, a prior understanding of the anatomy will enable you to talk more effectively with your doctor or cross-examine the opposing doctor;
  • Third, demonstrating some knowledge gives your doctor confidence in your professionalism and establishes your authority with the opposing doctor; and
  • Fourth, understanding the anatomy enables you to simplify the medical terminology for the jury—especially if your doctor is not a very good communicator.

Preparing for the Deposition: “Discovering Anatomy”

Gaining knowledge of anatomy is simple and cost-effective. It is simple because independent study is possible without an extensive scientific back-ground. It is cost-effective because once you learn it, it doesn’t change! Although medicine as a science changes as new diseases, treatments, and theories arise, the anatomical basis (on a gross level) does not. Once learned, anatomy is a body of knowledge that is reusable. So if there is one place to spend your independent time as a trial lawyer, it is the study of anatomy. How do you get such knowledge? There are quite a few sources.

The Practical Lawyer


The Practical Lawyer

CLICK HERE for the free download of the full article, which was originally published in ALI CLE’s The Practical Lawyer. 

Subscribe to the print or digital version of The Practical Lawyer today.