In the civil litigation and workers’ compensation fields, medical experts are often called on to give opinions about whether a particular medical condition was caused or contributed to by a specific injurious event or by the conditions of the claimant’s employment. Often these questions are directed at doctors whose daily practice involves primarily diagnosis and treatment, and not determining a medical causal relationship between medical conditions and events. As a result, when faced with these issues, some doctors resort to assessing causation on a purely subjective basis: i.e. the patient’s self report. Fortunately, the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Disease and Injury Causation provide evaluators with a protocol for making scientifically credible findings on causation.
The Protocol provided by the Guides is a six-step process. Failure to complete any of the steps in a manner that supports a causal relationship eliminates credibility for claims of injury-relatedness or work-relatedness. The six steps are: