My Story: 30 Years As An Orthopedic Surgeon & Medical Expert Witness Part 1

This week, Bruce Raymond Wright, respected inventor, author and personal motivator interviews Dr. John L. Chase.  The result is the the first of several parts in which Dr. Chase tells his story – 30 Years as An Orthopedic Surgeon and Medical Expert Evaluator & Witness.

Part 1

Bruce Wright:  Tell us, John, how did you first get involved in medical legal work?

Dr. John Chase:  Well, perhaps in the worst possible way.  I was in the third or fourth year of my medical practice.  After I had started out in practice after residency, I got involved in a malpractice suit.  I had the experience of being my own expert and testifying on my own behalf. I worked with the attorney who was defending me and with the experts that he brought in. The experience gave me a real interest that I was able to leverage later into an alternative part of my career.

By the way we did win the case.

Bruce Wright: That sounds like a great place to start.

Dr. John Chase: After the case was over, both attorneys asked me if I had any interest in medical legal work. They told me, “You testify clearly.  You’re easy to understand on the complicated aspects of medicine.  And we need people like you to help us with our cases, to help understand the cases and to help find out if there is a case.  To find out what the problem is.  What it’s related to.

So I agreed that I would start taking some cases and learn how to do it.  And I must say it was a very steep learning curve, because we don’t get any of that in medical school, residency, fellowship training, or in practice.

It was a bootstrap kind of thing.  I realized early on that this was something that nobody had taught.  It wasn’t being written about, but it was something I had to learn if I was going to be good at it.  So I took the advantage of getting the attorneys who were asking me to be an expert to train me on how to be a good one.

Bruce Wright:  What convinced you to diversify your medical practice into this new realm of being a medical legal professional?

Dr. John Chase: I became the doctor for the U.S. rugby team.  I was traveling a lot, and when I would come home from these trips, my wife would ask me how much money I’d made while I was away.  And of course, the answer in amateur athletics is nothing. So I tried to think “what can I do while I’m traveling that would earn some income? I realized that these case files and evaluations that I was doing, I could take with me on these trips.  And I could every day pull another one out of my file cabinet or my briefcase and I could use a Dictaphone and I could send my report home.  I must have found every Federal Express office all over the world. I started billing for these reports while I was gone.

Bruce Wright: So with modern technology this should be a lot easier today.

Dr. John Chase: Oh, much easier now.

Bruce Wright: Obviously there’s a big learning curve involved to get from where you started to where you are today.  Maybe you could talk about some of the aspects of the learning curve.

Dr. John Chase: Well first of all, I became aware of all kinds of things that go on in the world outside of my medical practice.  That was a big revelation because we live in our own world.

The next thing was that, while I was a good orthopedic surgeon, I didn’t know what the attorneys, the courts or any of the other entities that were involved were looking for.  So I had to teach myself.  And I did that two ways.  One, by writing the best report I could at the beginning and having it criticized by the people who’d hired me to do it.  And then also asking them to teach me what it is they were looking for.   And I would get a lot of very good constructive feedback from the people I was working with.  That’s how I learned to write a good report, and to testify well, and to be credible.  Be useful.  Be helpful.

Next week: Part 2

(For more information about Bruce Raymond Wright, visit

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