Chart review is significant in any personal injury case, including product liability cases because it helps understand the nature and extent of the injury and its impact on the injured person. So, medical records have a very important role to play in any injury case. Compared to other personal injury cases, product liability cases are more complex. The plaintiff has to prove that the particular product was defective and the proof of its defect needs to be produced in court. Typically, a product liability lawsuit claims negligent actions such as defective design, defective manufacturing, failure to warn of potential danger, and misrepresentation via marketing.
Medical Records Needed for Chart Review
The medical records that are relevant in a product liability case are:
- Admission record
- History and physicals
- Emergency room records
- Physician progress notes
- Physician orders
- Lab reports
- Operating room records/reports
- Medication reports
- Discharge summaries
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Why the Record Review Process Is Important
Medical records and their review are key to showing that the plaintiff was hurt by the product. It will provide a clear idea of the following:
- The manner in which the plaintiff was hurt
- Permanent or temporary loss of functions
- Treatments undergone/have to undergo in the future
The plaintiff or his/her attorney must be able to demonstrate that the injury was caused by the particular product’s defect and not another cause. Besides, it is also necessary to prove that the plaintiff used the product as intended and this resulted in the injury. The medical records will help document the injury and establish the connection between the injury and the product’s defect. Apart from the medical records, any relevant photos and hospital bills are also necessary to demonstrate that the injury occurred and also its severity. It will enable a jury or the insurance company to assess the degree of harm caused and assign the value that the plaintiff will be able to be compensated for.
For the defense side also, medical records and medical records analysis is a significant consideration. These bring to light any pre-existing conditions of the plaintiff or any mental health issues that could have a role to play in the allegations. The defense will have to review the records in minute detail to protect their clients.
In short, comprehensive and clear documentation is essential to a product liability case’s outcome both from the plaintiff’s side and the defense’s side.
The Value of Outsourced Medical Records Services
Medical records being voluminous and the review process being rather challenging, most attorneys prefer to utilize outsourced medical records services. Especially, in mass tort cases, a professional record review process is advantageous and involves the following.
- Detailed review/screening of the medical chart
- Identifying the relevant medical records and evaluating them in detail
- Medical record organization, bookmarking, and highlighting records
- Defining the standard of care
- Evaluating the severity or intensity of the injury and its impact
- Determining the merit of the case and providing an assessment
- Generating medical record review documents in accordance with client specifications or requirements
- Medical record summary and reporting of claimant data for each claimant
- Demographic details
- Medical procedures undergone
- Product ID
- Surgeries and procedures for each relevant product
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When all the medical facts and plaintiff details are clearly available, it is much easier for attorneys to prepare their case well. Besides, they have the expert opinion of professional medical record reviewers such as legal nurse consultants and physicians to depend upon.
Plaintiffs stand to gain by hiring a product liability attorney because it will be easier for them to obtain all the required medical records from diverse providers and medical record departments. Product liability cases require comprehensive information gathering and the medical data has to be processed as early as possible, which attorneys ensure with the support of professional chart review companies.
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