John Crawford and Lauren Nuffort co-authored an article in the October 2018 For the Defense magazine by DRI, the Voice of the Defense Bar.
Plaintiffs in personal injury actions often claim they will need future radiofrequency neurotomy (RFN) treatments indefinitely to obtain relief from chronic neck or back pain and to improve function and quality of life. These claims create the potential for significant future damage awards. Defense counsel often rely on their independent medical examination (IME) doctors to rebut these claims, but IME doctors may have a difficult time doing so because they often concede that RFN treatments only provide temporary relief from pain, and future treatments may be reasonable. Contrary to the claim that RFN treatments may be needed for the indefinite future, data from a plaintiff’s own doctor often does not support such a claim. Instead, such data reveal that patients often discontinue that treatment after the third or fourth procedure. That data, which can and should be turned over during discovery, can discredit testimony by a plaintiff’s pain specialist that RFN procedures may be needed in the future indefinitely. And the data could support a motion in limine to preclude such testimony altogether.