When A Doctor Gets Subpoenaed

Do NOT spend a lot of time on this link. It is a practical guide to physicians as to what to do when they get served with a subpoena. Step one. See if your name follows the “v.” That makes you a defendant. If it is a government organization that has issued the subpoena against you, call a good defense attorney. Quick! If it is a private party who has filed the case, you are still going to need to “lawyer up.”  

Step Two. If your name doesn’t appear in that troublesome spot, call the issuing attorney and find out what she wants of you. Fact witness? Expert Witness? How much compensation (if any) will you receive for the significant amount of your time this will likely consume?

I bring this to you only as a window into some of the interesting things that can happen when physicians wind up dealing with attorneys. I will give you two extremes from my own experience. At one end, I have my friend the Internist who makes a substantial part of his living testifying as an expert witness. Often really mind numbing cases like “Did the nursing home really cause this bed sore?”

At the other end of the spectrum is a friend who is an Orthopedist. Good one! Team doc for an NBA franchise. He was so concerned about being sued for malpractice that he hung up his scalpel and, of all things, started to moderate medical marketing research focus groups!!!

Bottom Line. Doctors and lawyers. Strange bedfellows!

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