There is no “correct” way to write a consultative report, and so much depends upon what your attorney wants. What do you think the attorney needs to see?
This is just my personal style. The first thing I write is an introductory paragraph that cites the patient’s name, claimed injury, and brief description of that injury and residual damages. I end it with my opinion, right up front. This may be the last sentence I actually write, but it should be prominent, with any disclaimers.
I might then have a section that lists the supportive evidence. Bullets are great for this. I follow with mitigating information that may work against the claim, probably in paragraph form, to allow your positive bullet points to take center stage.
I also have a bullet list of pre-existing or concomitant conditions that influenced the outcome of the injury. If these conditions are likely to be unfamiliar to the attorney, I will footnote rather than clutter up this section with parenthetical references. If there is a complicated concept I may use a graphic (who wants to describe a foot orthotic or a fundoplication or ICP screw when a simple image says everything). I only use one or at the most two maximize the impact without my report resembling a comic book.
What comes after depends upon the type of report. If I have done a chronology, I do not include all that data into the report – that is why I wrote a chronology. If it is a stand-alone report, I will want more information about the timeline of events and injury, but a chronology is always preferred.
This is where I would address standards of care, if applicable, contributory negligence, and how the case might have resolved but for those issues, whatever they may be.
If I can clearly see the opposing position, I will point that out and offer any counter points.
I end with a list of considerations for the attorney to pursue. This includes the experts that he will need to support his case; specific records to request (always get the ones that predate the event and the most recent since you will rarely have all of either). No matter how strong the evidence, I know that an expert “will be needed to confirm the…” because the attorney cannot base his case upon my opinion. Attorneys will often go forward with a mediation without an expert, and with great success. The decision is theirs.
Elements I like:
• Bullets, as mentioned – using phrases instead of complete sentence structuring allows me to express things succinctly and with more impact
• The use of only one font unless I do something different in a section header • Bolded headers in a larger font, usually in dark gray so that it stands out but isn’t too heavy
• Sentences that are no longer than the ones in this blog • A header beginning on page two that lists “Confidential Attorney Work Product”, with case name under that and the page number under that.
• A complete absence of the use of first person – my opinion is based upon objective evidence, not my feelings
• Absence of emotional input – state the facts clearly and strongly and they will speak for themselves – “this poor dear lady” is just not my style and does nothing to support the case. The attorney will often use that language in his pleading.
• I end with appreciation for the consult, state my availability for further communication, and offer to review further medical records as they arise or fulfill other needs such as expert location
• I sign with “Respectfully Submitted” even if it is an attorney I work with all the time, because it is respectfully submitted
• If I used reference materials for the report, I will cite them.
• I use folders that are hard on the outside (they come in different colors), and have 2 or 3 separators inside, with 2-hole punch on the top. This allows me to organize my work in a logical fashion. I staple my business card to the cover. I include my invoice in a white envelope paper-clipped inside so they do not miss it but it is not the first thing they see.
It is a “process”, and you will find a way that works best for you.