My Story: 30 Years as an Orthopedic Surgeon/Medical Expert Witness Part 2

This week, Bruce Raymond Wright, respected inventor, author and personal motivator continues his interview with Dr. John L. Chase. Part 2 of several parts in which Dr. Chase tells his story 30 Years as An Orthopedic Surgeon and Medical Expert Evaluator & Witness.

Bruce Wright:  Tell me more about how you learned to be successful both as a consultant and as a doctor.

Dr. John Chase: Consulting is a very effective way of learning how to be a better doctor. I was interfacing with some other professionals than doctors that were very intelligent, very skilled, very highly motivated attorneys.  And so I began to learn how to deal with difficult and demanding individuals.

Another part of the learning curve was that it expanded my reputation and my contacts into a bigger environment.   Medical legal work led to rapport and relationships with a much larger universe of people that I would have otherwise been exposed to or involved with.

Bruce Wright: You started to transition into making it a real business.  Tell me about that. 

Dr. John Chase: Give the market what it wants and you’ll have customers. I think that’s what happened to me.  I gave the market a commodity that it needed, which was a skilled medical legal examiner who knew what he was dealing with and knew how to put medical terms into language that was understandable to a lay audience.

Bruce Wright: Tell me a little bit more about that decision to move into a business, and what was the process that you followed. 

Dr. John Chase: First of all I had developed a lot of customers.  And the more customers that I got and were satisfied or pleased with the work, the more they referred me to their colleagues and other people

I got to the point that I just couldn’t do anymore work. I started asking the clients if they would like me to refer them to other orthopedists, because I was so busy.  So clients agreed, and I began doing that.

Then I began getting phone calls saying Dr. So-and-So is a great doctor, but he’s a lousy expert.  So after about three or four calls like that I decided that the doctors needed to be trained before I could refer them to any of my clients.

Then I found that it could be difficult to work with the doctor’s office staff even after the doctor agreed to be a consultant, because the staff didn’t appreciate what medical legal work was or what the priorities were.  Unless the doctors got involved with retraining their staff we had a real problem getting them to do their work on time, getting to make appointments and getting them to do scheduled testimonies. I realized that the doctors needed a medical legal staff to do this kind of work with.

So I developed an administrative services company to provide staff that was skilled in medical legal work.  I allowed the doctors to use our office and specialized staff.

Bruce Wright:  In the early stages you were focusing really on just orthopedic related cases and then what happened was through demand, requests from lawyers, insurance companies, et cetera, you just branched out and became very holistic in terms of the different types of categories of medical specialty and administrative support that you could provide? 

Dr. John Chase: Right.  Well, we started advertising ourselves as a service that had covered 252 different specialties and subspecialties of medicine, and paramedical types of specialties.  If there was any kind of an expert that a client needed, they could obtain them through us.  And if we didn’t have it, we would get it.  Then there would be training and support so that the expert could function in a very sophisticated and talented way.

Bruce Wright: Could you elaborate a little more on the marketing component?

Dr. John Chase: We got the doctors to go out and give talks, and we got them to go out and promote themselves by showing how knowledgeable they were in the subject that they were experts in.  And that was magic.  The doctor would get in front of the client and they would get to see them, hear them, ask them questions, and experience them.  They were always looking for new experts and would want to give them a case right away.

We found the stars that we could promote, and we found the people who should look for other areas of medical legal work.  We were doing primarily personal injury.

Bruce Wright: Obviously personality is going to play a role – a person who is going to be extremely effective on the witness stand would need to have certain types of characteristics or attributes, wouldn’t they?

Dr. John Chase: That’s right.  The testimony part of at least personal injury work is very dependent on your confidence, your demeanor, your sense of humor, your humility, and your ability to function in an adversarial environment.  It can be very stressful.

Bruce Wright: Some people perform extremely well under adversity or pressure.  They can enter into a state of equanimity. If a person has that characteristic, will they do better on the stand than a person who isn’t able to put himself or herself in that state of equanimity? 

Dr. John Chase: Yes with a qualification.  Some of the people who have this attribute are not humble.  They’re arrogant.  Arrogance and lack of humility comes across very poorly in court.  So we had to cull out from all the doctors the ones who had the confidence and the charisma, as well as the people who could do it with humility, and humor.

Next week: Part 3 – How Medical Legal Work Made Me a Better Doctor

(For more information about Bruce Raymond Wright, visit

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