Medical review companies provide significant support to legal teams handling personal injury, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, social security disability, and other cases that involve a medical element. With a team comprising medical as well as non-medical professionals, they help attorneys understand the complicated medical aspects of the cases and prepare the cases well. The important thing is that they understand the challenges attorneys encounter related to medical records, what attorneys actually need, and provide the right solutions.
Reliable Support in Collecting and Reviewing the Medical Records
How does a medical review company assist an attorney with any of the above-mentioned cases? Attorneys handling medical-legal cases typically want to understand aspects such as:
- The plaintiff’s injury and its intensity or seriousness
- Any impairment caused by the injury
- Whether the plaintiff has any pre-existing conditions
- Whether the plaintiff was involved in any similar injury before the litigation or after it
- Outcomes of the injuries and complications if any
- Whether the pre-existing conditions worsened after the current injury
- When the plaintiff reached maximum medical improvement
- Whether the plaintiff cooperated with the treatment provided
The medical review team comprising physician reviewers and legal nurse consultants among others, with their detail-oriented and analytical approach, will extract the correct medical information from the plaintiff’s medical records and present it in a clear summary form to the attorney. Typically, the medical review team’s report formats – timeline of important medical events, chronology of care, medical history and summary, and medical literature search and summary would help the attorney understand the medical issues. The team would also highlight damaging information, if any, in the medical records.
Here’s a look at how a trained and experienced medical record review team delivers true value to attorneys. They
- help attorneys determine the value of a case, whether it is a strong or weak one, and whether to take it or not
- identify possible breaches in the standard of care (in a medical malpractice case)
- conduct medical legal research
- assist in the preparation of trial, depositions, and interrogations
- organizing and indexing the medical records
- summarizing depositions
- help obtain expert testimony in specialty areas of medicine
- identify missing medical records
- find inconsistencies, if any, that show vulnerability
- clearly explain the long-term impact of the injury on the plaintiff
Medical Record Organization to Build an Organized Case File
Organizing the medical records obtained from various healthcare providers is the very important first step in the record review process. This helps to identify missing records at the earliest. Often, especially in cases that involve complex medical issues, the medical records arrive in a disorganized manner. Nowadays, companies have started using advanced software to organize the medical records, which is a highly efficient process.
The organized records are bookmarked electronically and prepared for Bates stamping. Bates stamps/numbers annotate the documents by page number. These are usually preceded by letters that signify the provider/healthcare facility from which the records originated. Programs such as Adobe Acrobat can easily Bates stamp the records electronically.
It’s after proper organization of the records, that the medical chart review process is initiated. When reviewing the data, the review team keeps in mind important factors such as standard of care, breaches of that standard, injury to the patient or damages, liability, and causation. They make sure that the attorney is aware of everything that happened through an accurate case chronology.
All Medical Aspects Are Made Clear
In any healthcare case, medical records are the major source of evidence. Their complexity and the difficulty involved in interpreting and summarizing them necessitate the service of medical review companies. Experienced medical review firms obtain and analyze all the medical records needed for litigation purposes. This enables legal and risk management teams to save time and resources, and focus on developing the case. A medical review firm, with extensive knowledge of the healthcare industry and medical review expertise, can help their client attorneys efficiently review medical records, identify the medical aspects that really matter, and develop the case to ensure a favorable outcome.