Does this sound familiar?
You are a plaintiff medical malpractice attorney sifting through potential claims, and you aren't sure which ones have merit. The real person attached to the case in front of you wants an answer, and you want to give the to her. She left you with a stack of medical records that you need to examine, but you aren’t sure what you should be looking for. As many times as you've evaluated electronic medical records, they still seem as cryptic and convoluted as they are informative. Before you invest thousands of hours (and dollars) in this case, you really need to know what this case is about. Is this just a disappointing patient outcome, or is there more to uncover? If you have the medical expertise to correctly assess this case, you'll feel much more comfortable about taking it. You’ll feel assured that you had a case worth investigating (and worth investing in). You’ll know what to tell the client when she calls to find out if you're willing to represent her.
Or maybe you're a personal injury attorney handling a stack of claims. You have piles of medical records. Your plaintiff has received a variety of treatment for complicated injuries. Your head spins when you look at the size of the chart. You're aware that the plaintiff was in another car accident six months before the one you're litigating. Which injuries resulted from which accident? Someone needs to pore over the records and summarize the treatment, but you doubt you're the best person for the job. If you find an expert consultant to decipher this case, you can get up to speed on the damages and confidently proceed.
Over the last several months, I've detailed the complexity of organizing and analyzing medical records. Clearly, it takes a great deal of time to do this task justice. If just anyone could read medical records, you wouldn't need someone with medical background to assist in correct interpretation and preparation (the keys to any successful case). Correct record analysis hinges on three imperatives:
The interpretation of information found in the records
Identification of information missing from the records
The knowledge to lead you to the missing information
The Benefits of a Legal Nurse Consultant
As a Legal Nurse Consultant, I help personal injury attorneys get a quick grasp on the damages, treatment and complications in a case. I help plaintiff attorneys determine which cases are worthwhile. I assist you in weeding out the non-meritorious cases from those worth pursuing. When I audit those stacks of medical records, I pinpoint the issues quickly, saving you time and money and allowing you to spend your valuable resources on cases with merit.
I provide you with a distinct advantage over utilizing non-medical personnel for patient records review. Count the number of times paralegals or office professionals have told you they aren't sure they've received all the records you requested. You never need to worry about that again. I have the knowledge and experience to translate information found in patient charts, to determine what information is missing and to locate those vital records.
Medical litigation is complex. Thorough review and analysis of healthcare records are imperative in any case investigation. One word or phrase can entirely change the complexion of a case. One seemingly insignificant entry can break a case. As a detail-oriented Legal Nurse Consultant, I find those entries. Small but highly significant details can be overlooked―with potentially disastrous results―during discovery and at trial. Don’t let your adversary surprise you. Let me help you be prepared.
Organize Records to Save Time and Money
Medical records tell the story of the person’s journey through the healthcare process. Records are frequently received from medical providers in the order they come off the copier, which is most often in reverse order.
If presented with a disorderly copy of records, nursing and medical experts will often reorganize the records in chronological order before starting the case review. Poorly organized records increase the frustration of the expert, prolong the review process and increase the total on the expert’s invoice—three things you don’t want. Let me organize the records in a sequential fashion to allow the story to unfold as it transpired.
Support I Provide as a Legal Nurse Consultant
When you add an me to your legal team, you know you're gaining medical knowledge and discernment, but there's a level of added support you may not have considered:
Evaluate Medical Records: I expertly decipher medical records. I keep abreast of the plaintiff’s current medical status and periodically obtain additional medical records. In my review of records, I notice when there are references to additional providers that the plaintiff forgot about or failed to mention. I can make a recommendation of whether those records are essential to the case. It’s also important to know whether there is anything in the records which might impact the plaintiff’s credibility. The records may refer to a history of drug or alcohol abuse or trouble with the law. Did the client complete treatment as ordered? I'll look for those issues.
Obtain Medical Literature: I will conduct in-depth medical literature searches as issues in the case become more focused regarding the liability or damages issues. This includes obtaining peer-reviewed journal articles, excerpts from authoritative medical text books and clinical guidelines written by professional organizations. I have the ability to read dense scientific papers and identify content that's relevant to the case.
Coordinate with Experts: I can search for and interact with experts retained to review the liability, causation and damages issues. I can coordinate further review and discussions with experts based on information that was revealed during the course of depositions.
Evaluate the Expert’s Position: How did the deposition go? Was the expert’s report well written? I'll help you evaluate the deposition testimony and any accompanying expert reports.
Write or Evaluate the Demand Letter: As a plaintiff LNC, when called upon to draft a demand letter for an attorney, I draw upon my ability to analyze and synthesize information, organize it and explain it in simple terms. Let me summarize the liability, causation and damages issues before the attorney reviews it. As a defense LNC, I reviews the plaintiff’s demand letter and provide the defense attorney with an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the case, along with their likely risk exposure if they proceed to trial.
As I conclude this series on deciphering medical records, consider the how a legal nurse consultant can add value to your legal team. The expertise added and the time and money saved may prove invaluable to you, your clients and your future.