Developing Medical Case Chronology and Reviewing Medical Records in Product Liability Litigation
Posted: Apr 12, 2016
Medical record review is the first important step in product liability litigation. Product liability claims are those that involve defective medical products such as defective hip implants, breast implants, medications, and birth control devices that have caused injuries to patients. The medical records are the first documents to be obtained in such injury claims. The attorney with the assistance of medical record review services will examine the medical records to review details regarding the injury, and the care/treatment provided to the patient.
Medical Case Chronology to Put Things in the Proper Perspective
A medical case chronology is prepared to have a clear idea of the important medical facts. All tests, treatments, medications and care provided are put in chronological sequence on a day-by-day basis. When an accurate timeline of pertinent events is created, it becomes especially useful in complex cases where multiple healthcare providers have provided care. Usually, the dates of service and Bates numbers are referenced in the chronology to facilitate locating the required information within the medical records. A medical chronology is customizable to meet attorney requirements, and may include the following:
- Provider of medical record/provider of care/type of record
- Dates of service
- Bates numbering
- Pertinent research information presented in summary
- Analytical observations
- Definitions of medical terms
- Missing information
Simply put, a well-prepared chronology puts all the medical information needed at the attorney’s fingertips.
Reviewing the Medical Evidence
Product liability cases involve large volume medical records and the review process is painstaking. The review will help determine whether the defective product was indeed the cause of the injury or harm to the patient. A medical review team comprising legal nurse consultants and physicians will evaluate the medical documentation to mine the important details. They will also review earlier medical records that are relevant to find details such as any earlier injury, medical conditions or predisposition to injury. In a product liability case, they would also have to determine the standards pertinent to the specific set of circumstances to finalize whether breaches have occurred. The review process will:
- Provide important details such as type of injury, site of injury, any significant features, and so on.
- Identify missing records, alterations in the records, omissions and wrong entries.
- Highlight discrepancies, conflicting statements and information in the medical records.
The medical documentation review is best done by a review team knowledgeable in medical facts, terminology and jargon; that has the expertise to review records pertaining to different medical specialties; and also possesses critical thinking skills.
The review is followed by the preparation of the medical case summary wherein all positive and negative facts regarding the patient’s clinical experience are summarized, usually in a simple, bulleted list that attorneys can easily understand. These summaries are objective and provide a clear overview of the entire medical chart. Written in narrative form, these help to view an entire case along with all supporting documentation. They will also alert the attorney as regards any missing documents that may be critical to the case.
Medical Review Services – a Practical Solution for Product Liability Attorneys
Medical record review for attorneys is a service that can be utilized by both plaintiff and defense attorneys, and will prove useful in the pre-litigation and litigation stages. Plaintiff attorneys would investigate whether the medical product was defective due to a design flaw. They would be looking to prove that the product was defective due to a design defect, manufacturing error or other danger, and was responsible for the injury. The attorney would have a strong case if it is established that the product was being used as intended, and its flaw was directly responsible for the plaintiff’s injury. The defense attorney would be looking for proof whether the defective product alone was responsible for the injury, or whether there were other pre-injury factors that may have played a role.
There are many factors that determine whether a product liability case will settle, among which the most significant factor is the particular type of case. More complex issues and case types are unlikely to settle early in the litigation timeline. This is because such cases usually require a trial to determine liability and damages.
Managed Outsource Solutions (Mos) has providing value-added medical record review services for the medico-legal industries.