During this time of National Health Crisis, I want to let all of the patients, attorneys, insurance adjustors and others whom we work with on a daily basis, that our office is up and running. One of the advantages of a home office is that we can shelter in place while still having access to all of our files, computers, and work tools.

With this in mind, we are still able to take medical legal scheduling calls and I am working daily to assure that all pending reports are completed and submitted on a timely basis. Currently we are scheduling cases in our usual and customary manner, while at the same time paying close attention to the Covid Effect and cautions at each of our multiple examination locations.

In the case of a malpractice case, I do not expect any difficulties in review of medical records and offering of any opinions or reports due to the current situation. I am available each day for phone consults about potential cases and have time available to author any necessary reports. I have taken part in many depositions telephonically over the years and see no reason that this will not still be a possibility when needed. Whether appearances as an expert witness at trial will be affected in the future still is an unknown. I have had two trial testimony dates cancelled in the last few days due in large part to the closing of courts. As in everything else in today’s world we will all take things one day at a time.

In the event that we must re-schedule any medical legal examinations (which is highly likely) we will give all of the parties notice of our actions and a full explanation of our rationale. The California Division of Workers Compensation, has advised the QME community that there will be no disciplinary measures taken against a QME due to late reporting or cancellation of examinations due to the current crisis.

There is a great deal of discussion in the medical legal provider environment about the plausibility of performing cases such as IME, QME, AME etc. on a tele-medicine basis. Currently the California DWC has not yet offered any guidelines that relate to this form of a QME examination. From a practical perspective there are certain aspects of a neurological/orthopedic/musculoskeletal examination that still require a hands-on physical examination. While there is great deal of discussion of technological tools that could mitigate the need for a face to face examination, much of this technology is untested in the medical legal applications, and there remain considerations about validity of such exam findings and accuracy of conclusions that would result from such examinations.

This is uncharted territory for all of us. I hope that during these times of the unknown we can keep the congeniality of our relationships with all those that we provide services. Adaptation will be implemented as needed, and all due diligence will be given prior to making any significant changes that could cause an unforeseen future problem.

If you have any questions, please call me at 510-657-6366 I will be happy to take your call.

Dr. Richard K. Skala