Preparation of a narrative summary is an important medical review service that attorneys utilize to the best effect in their medical litigation. What is a medical narrative summary? It is a running description of the patient’s medical history in a narrative style. All the medical events or encounters in the medical chart are highlighted in this summary. Narrative summaries are prepared for different types of injury cases – disability, slip and fall, workers’ compensation, medical malpractice, auto accidents, and so on. Attorneys expect the medical review companies assisting them to prepare these summaries tailored to their individual requirements so that it is easy for them to read and understand various medical aspects of the cases they handle.
Narrative medical summaries are prepared by medical experts in a medical review team who study and interpret the medical records, review important medical events chronologically, and consider all relevant factors before preparing the summary. A good narrative summary would highlight all the current injuries as well as any pre-existing injuries, and also any significant medical conditions. The various medical events the patient encounters include the following.
- Office visit
- Physical therapy procedures
- Chiropractic procedures
- Lab and imaging tests
Let us briefly look at how a narrative medical summary becomes useful to the attorney in injury cases. Consider a medical malpractice lawsuit that involves the negligence on the part of a medical professional – physicians, nurses, or other clinicians. The patient’s medical chart provides evidence regarding the injury that resulted from the professional’s negligence. The medical record reviewer preparing the summary would give details regarding the injury and the consequent harm. It would show that a patient-doctor relationship existed between the plaintiff and the defendant; that the healthcare professional deviated from the applicable standard of care on the diagnosis; how that deviation led to the injury; the nature of the injury and its impact on the patient.
Narrative summaries are useful also for attorneys preparing disability cases. They need to develop medical evidence from the plaintiff’s medical records that will support the disability claim. A comprehensive medical records review will help identify the relevant medical records from the hundreds to thousands of pages of the medical chart. The narrative summary prepared after the review will provide details of the claimant’s medically determinable impairment, whether the disability meets a listing or is equivalent to a listing in the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s list of impairments, and the claimant’s medical treatment history. The summary would also include medical information that would help establish a connection between the symptoms and the functional limitations of the claimant.
Auto accidents also give rise to personal injury cases and attorneys handling these cases need to review the relevant medical records and summarize the important facts that will help develop the case. In any personal injury case, the two most important considerations are determining fault and calculating damages. For the latter, the injured person’s medical records are vital and in fact, the most credible evidence. The review of the medical records would help identify the nature and extent of the injury and its impact on the plaintiff, and these details are included in the narrative summary. Based on this information, the attorney can calculate damages and determine a fair compensation amount.
For a professional and accurate narrative summary, attorneys can utilize the services of a medical review company. This is a good option because the summary will be prepared by a team comprising physicians, legal nurse consultants, and reviewers with excellent medical expertise.
- Such professionally created summaries would include an analysis of the medical-legal issues that is most helpful for attorneys, and which a paralegal may not be able to create. The analysis would make the medical aspects clear to the attorney, and how those affect the legal issues in the case.
- All the allegations of the plaintiff would be reviewed and the legal validity of each would be addressed.
- Every relevant factor of the case is considered, including aspects such as breach in the standard of care, causation, the full extent of damages, and venue and plaintiff demographics among others.
- Medical terminology and conditions will be described in a way that the attorney can easily understand the facts. There will be no ambiguities in the report that may confuse the attorney.
- All medical abbreviations would be expanded at the first instance they are used.
A well-prepared medical narrative summary, especially one prepared by an experienced medical chart review company, is a valuable tool in the hands of a personal injury attorney. It is very useful at every stage of the case and strengthens the case. A well-organized, accurate, and customized summary saves the attorney time, effort, and cost. An unbiased, insightful summary will highlight all important medical details, which in turn helps the attorney to determine the validity of the injury claim, calculate the actual damages involved, and put together a better case.