Hafner v. Beck

In Hafner v. Beck, 185 Ariz. 389, 916 P.2d 1105 (App. 1995), the Court addressed the nature of a physician's duty when the physician had been hired by a third party to conduct an independent medical evaluation of a worker's compensa tion claimant. The claimant had sued a psychologist who had performed an independent medical examination for the insurance carrier, alleging that the examination fell below the standard of care and that the psychologist had negligently reported incorrect information to the carrier. 185 Ariz. at 390, 916 P.2d at 1106. The court reasoned that, because the carrier had retained the psychologist to evaluate the claimant and not to treat her, his duty ran only to the carrier. Id. at 392, 916 P.2d at 1108. Dr. Beck conducted an independent psychological examination of the plaintiff at the request of the plaintiff's workers' compensation carrier. Id. at 390, 916 P.2d at 1106. Dr. Beck reported that the plaintiff "required no further psychological treatment and had no psychological impairment related to her industrial accident." Id. Because of his conclusion, the plaintiff lost compensation benefits and psychotherapy treatment for several months. Id. Hafner applied the traditional rule that a duty arises only when a doctor-patient relationship exists. Id. at 391, 916 P.2d at 1107. A doctor has no duty to the patient only when the doctor has no intent "to treat, care for or otherwise benefit the employee." Hafner, 185 Ariz. at 392, 916 P.2d at 1108.