Physician-Patient Relationship With An Insurance Company Doctor

In Johnston v. Sibley, 558 S.W.2d 135 (Tex.Civ.App.-Tyler 1977, writ ref. n.r.e.) , the Tyler Court of Appeals held that where a doctor performs a worker's compensation impairment examination solely for the benefit of the insurance company, no physician-patient relationship exists between the doctor and the examinee. 558 S.W.2d at 137-38. In Johnston, Dr. Sibley was hired by an insurance company to assess Mr. Johnston's condition in connection with a worker's compensation claim. Johnston, 558 S.W.2d at 135-36. Johnston claimed that Dr. Sibley negligently reported to the insurance company that he suffered from no disability when in fact he was suffering from at least permanent partial disability and sought damages including recoupment of the worker's compensation benefits he was denied as a result of Sibley's diagnosis. Id. Sibley moved for summary judgment on the grounds that no doctor-patient relationship existed and therefore, he owed no legal duty to Johnston. Id. at 136. In the absence of Texas law, the Tyler Court of Appeals relied on authority from other states in holding that when a doctor examines a person for the sole purpose of a worker's compensation assessment, no doctor-patient relationship exists and the doctor's only duty is to conduct the examination in a manner not to cause harm to the person being examined. Johnston, 558 S.W.2d at 137. The court held that the duty to use professional care in making the examination and in preparing the report ran only to the party requesting the report. Johnston, 558 S.W.2d at 138.