Medical data or information is important in every stage of mass tort litigation. This information must be abstracted from the medical records of patients through a medical record analysis. The medical review report prepared after such an analysis helps the attorney to utilize the information available and obtain good results for his/her clients. Mass tort cases involve a group of plaintiffs who have been harmed by the same product such as pharmaceutical drugs, medical devices, toxic products and so on. In such cases, the same harm is caused directly or indirectly by the defendant’s actions. The level of injury determines how a claim is resolved or settled.
Why Mass Tort Litigation Support Is Valuable
Given the large number of plaintiffs, the medical records to be collected and verified are large-volume and complex. Typically, a significant workforce has to be assigned to review these records, and the process can be time-consuming and strenuous. To successfully present and argue a mass tort case, discovery of the primary injury caused is most important. This signifies the relevance of accurate plaintiff medical records. The records provide evidence of the particular product use, injury, treatments obtained and other details. Importantly, a detailed medical record review also helps reveal any pre-existing conditions that could have an impact on the plaintiff’s recovery. Here are some of the types of medical records that are reviewed.
- History and physical – these records give the reason for admission to the healthcare facility, gives details regarding diagnoses, pre-existing conditions, and the treatment plan.
- Lab reports – give information regarding the various diagnostic tests, imaging studies etc. and support the documentation in the other medical records.
- Consultations – provide information about the consultations with a specialist, gives more detailed information of the injury and the cause of the injury, explains the treatment to be provided and the expected outcome.
- Prescription records and pharmacy records, surgical records, therapy records.
- Discharge summary – this is a detailed summary of the entire hospital stay, with information regarding any complications that occurred; includes notes about any lasting effects of the injury and any follow-up care.
Typically, in a busy law firm, attorneys and their paralegals may not have time to review the voluminous medical records, extract the medical facts of a case and build a medical chronology. That is why mass tort litigation support becomes relevant. When such support is enlisted, professional medical record reviewers analyze the medical records and create accurate chronologies that give the following important information.
- Plaintiff’s medical history
- Onset of symptoms/complications
- Pre-existing conditions
- Complications related to surgery
- Missing medical records
Another important advantage of having professional support is that they help attorneys determine which medical records are most relevant to the particular injury and its litigation. When only the correct records are ordered, it saves the attorney valuable time and costs. Moreover, an experienced review team will also know what information to look for in the records, based on the injury.
Plaintiff Fact Sheet and Its Significance
A plaintiff fact sheet or PFS is a set of questionnaires released by the federal court and typically involves mass tort cases that have been centralized for synchronized discovery and pretrial proceedings. These have to be submitted within the period set by the court. Information in the PFS enables attorneys to scrutinize the validity of the claim before preparing the case. It helps them have a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the case. Plaintiff fact sheets provide claimants as well as defendants with a good overview of the case.
Considering the large volume of plaintiffs in a mass tort case, completing plaintiff sheets can be very daunting for a law firm, especially when there is a deadline to meet. This requires comprehensive and accurate information that is to be drawn from the medical documentation. So, attorneys face the challenge of comprehending the complex medical jargon and specialty-specific medical language in the records. Each medical event entered in the plaintiff fact sheet must be supplemented with authorized medical records, which is also quite time-consuming. In plaintiff fact sheet preparation also, the services of a medical review company can prove useful. They will take care of the entire PFS preparation and the information collated would help legal teams have a better understanding of the case. This of course, is very important when it comes to preparing the case.
Once the medical records are received, they are Bates stamped and bookmarked. A detailed review of the records is performed, wherein missing records are identified so that the request for the same can be sent immediately. If required, the plaintiffs are contacted for any additional information. Once all the details are available, the PFS form is filled with all relevant details. Having an outsourced medical record review team is helpful also because they keep updating the information as and when the medical records and other evidence become available. Accurate PFS completed by an experienced review team will help ease settlement negotiations. The team ensures that the attorney can submit an accurate and complete PFS form in court before the set deadline.
Medical record analysis as well as plaintiff fact sheet completion for mass tort cases need to be professionally done. Since these processes can be time-consuming and overwhelming for attorneys and their legal teams, they are best outsourced to a good service provider. This will help attorneys prepare and litigate the mass tort case efficiently and obtain a satisfactory resolution for their clients. Outsourcing could prove especially valuable for law firms that may not have the manpower required to handle multiple aspects of complex mass tort litigation.