Not long ago, I was contacted by a developer to ask me for my thoughts on his company’s newest product, Authentic3D. The developer, Jorey Chernett, and his company, Intrinsic Medical Imaging LLC, developed software that renders CT-Scans and MRIs in 3D. Originally the software was designed to assist health care professionals review and explain diagnostic tests. But one day, Mr. Chernett got a call from a friend, an attorney interested in using the software at trial.
As a medical malpractice defense attorney, I am always skeptical of anything designed to display medical images, particularly from an evidentiary standpoint. But when I opened the first sample video, I was blown away…
Pretty cool, huh?
The Problem: MRI and CT Images aren’t exactly “jury friendly.”
MRI and CT-Scan images contain a wealth of information. However, without help, it’s probably too much information to be effectively used at trial. The first time I ever looked at the processed images of an MRI (a knee injury), I gave up on the idea of trying to show the image to a jury in a matter of seconds. For the uninitiated, CT-Scans and MRIs essentially create many 2D images, or “slices,” of a particular body part. The “slices” are then reviewed by a radiologist. A radiologist who knows what he or she is looking for. And already understands human anatomy.
Jurors don’t have the education or training to interpret the raw images.
Most jurors, on the other hand, don’t. They don’t know what a “signal change” means, or which little circle on the image is the person’s ACL. Attempting to teach the jury what the image means through a radiologist is a waste of time, since you save a lot of time and confusion by simply admitting the radiologist’s report into evidence.
Existing demonstrative tools fail to take advantage of wealth of information in MRI and CT-Scan images.
I’ve also seen attorneys attempt to “educate” the jury about particular aspects of anatomy through clumsy demonstrative exhibits – two dimensional posters of limited effectiveness (and admissibility). Most are illustrations out of a medical textbook or some online resource. Without an expert who is incredibly adept at keeping a jury’s attention (I do know of a couple), the illustrations just aren’t very interesting or helpful.
The Solution: Authentic3D turns actual MRI and CT-Scan images into engaging 3D explorations.
Authentic3D allows attorneys, and their medical experts, to ditch the idea of educating the jury via two-dimensional illustrations. Your expert is no longer a professor giving a lecture, relying entirely on her own charisma to engage the jury. Now, your expert is leading an exploration.
I’ve always been most impressed by attorneys who are able to connect with a jury not by bringing their language “down” to the level of the jurors, but rather by bringing the jury “up” to the level of the attorney. (Anyone who has ever seen Gray Wilson give a closing argument will understand how powerful a tool this can be.)
By having your expert lead the jury on an exploration of the important anatomical issues in the case, you’ll actually be empowering the jury. They’ll be grateful, and they’ll have exactly the understanding that you want them to have of the issues in the case. Most importantly, you’ll have taught them about the case by bringing them up, rather than talking down to them.
Critically, the exploration will involve your client’s actual medical images. No more illustrations of an imaginary person, a cartoon existing only to educate first-year medical students. When your expert guides the jury on a flythrough of the femoral artery, as in the video above, they’ll be going through the artery of a real person. Does your lawsuit involve a traumatic brain injury? Think about how a juror is going to react to being taken inside your client’s head, getting a look at the intracranial bleeding your client suffered from the inside-out – while your client sits a few feet away.
An innovative, affordable product
One of the best parts of my conversation with Mr. Chernett was how earnestly he believed that his company’s new software is only effective if it’s also accessible. For just $750, Authetic3D will provide a 3D rendering of your client’s CT-Scan or MRI, three selected still images, and certification by a board certified radiologist or neuroradiologist. Oh, and they’ll do it in 72 hours.
Authentic3D is FDA approved, and consists entirely of your client’s actual MRI or CT-Scan images. Importantly, Authentic3D presentations have been successfully admitted into evidence in every trial they’ve been used.
Some concerns remain
I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t at least mention a few of the areas of concern that remain for me. First, although no problems have arisen yet, you always have to worry about admissibility. Although it is the patient’s own MRI or CT-Scan, the fact that rendering the 3D image means the MRI or CT-Scan isn’t in its original format. Further, any modification of signal color in order to improve image clarity could raise concerns. Beyond all that, there are some judges (and lawyers) who just don’t like new technology.
It’s also important to remember that the Authentic3D rendering isn’t like an open-world video game. It’s a visual rendition, prepared in advance, scripted to perform certain tasks. Your expert will need to be ready to follow the script, or all your high-tech gadgets won’t be able to overcome the jury’s impression that you’re disorganized and unprepared.
Finally, I wonder what impact privacy laws and regulations, such as HIPPA, will have for litigants attempting to use Authentic3D for an MRI of an opposing party. While the individual patient clearly has the legal right to give their medical records to a third-party like Authentic3D, how do medical privacy laws impact the ability of defense counsel to do the same? I pose the question because I do not know the answer.
Even considering all my concerns, Authentic3D is a amazing tool for presenting medical evidence. Whether you’re presenting to a jury, an arbitrator, a judge, or in mediation, Authentic3D is an excellent way to make your medical evidence interesting, engaging, and (most importantly) persuasive. Even better, at $750 per scan, Authentic3D is within reach for all types of litigants, including firms and individuals without the financial resources to employ expensive litigation graphics teams.
I definitely recommend checking it out!