Key Medical Records to Review in a Product Liability Case

by | Published on May 2, 2016 | Medical Record Review

One of the most common and routine surgeries, hip replacements have benefited people by providing pain relief and increased mobility. Unfortunately, metal-on-metal hip models from Johnson & Johnson, Stryker and DePuy are seen to create problems. This is because metallic debris released by friction between the hips’ metal components can lead to dangerous physical reactions and hip failure. Product liability lawyers handling cases for clients who have been injured by artificial hip implants identify the injury and its extent with the help of expert medical record review services. Medical professionals in the review team rely on the injured person’s medical records to understand the injury and also to determine the manufacturer of the hip implant.

What the Medical Record Review Would Focus on

The medical documentation reviewed would include blood and lab test reports, MRI and Ultrasound. The medical record review would focus on identifying the condition known as ARMD (adverse reaction to metal debris). This signifies the body’s adverse reaction to chromium and cobalt particles releases from the metal hip implants. Serious indications include pain, swelling and inflammation. Joint dislocation may occur due to the area around the hip becoming unstable. There may be issues such as destruction of the muscle, bone and blood vessels; neurological problems such as dizziness, blurred vision and hearing loss.

Important Medical Records Reviewed

A product liability case which involves development of dangerous health conditions depends considerably upon the medical records of the patient. Let us consider the key medical records in such a case.

  • Surgery or operative note: This is the written record of the surgery that is created by the operating surgeon. It contains important information such as the technique used in implanting the medical device, what medical device was implanted, complications if any, and how the surgeon addressed such complications.
  • Records containing details about product stickers: Product stickers are attached to the implanted medical device. Usually, it will be affixed to/included with the package containing the medical device. The operating nurse room confirms that the device is the properly prescribed one for the specific surgical procedure. Then, he/she removes the sticker and places it either on the Receiving Report or Perioperative Note. Sometimes it may also be placed on the Nurse’s Report. This sticker will contain all vital identifying information (name of the device, reference number, lot number and bar codes) regarding the medical device.
  • Medical records from the physical therapist: These records maintained by the physical therapist will show the patient’s progress after surgery as well as the trauma and pain the patient went through during the rehabilitation process. These notes are very important because very often the physical therapist can be the healthcare provider who first identifies that the surgery/medical device used may have failed.
  • Discharge summary: This is also an important medical record because it gives a general view of the patient’s experience through the entire surgical procedure (from the time of admission, through the surgery). It would also provide details about post-operative care and instructions for handling recovery after being discharged. Usually, the discharge summary is dictated by a physician who was not the surgeon in the case. Therefore inaccuracies are possible, which requires additional scrutiny of the record.

In a medical record review for attorneys, the medical review company or professional reviewing the records would identify all significant information that can have an impact on the lawsuit, and settlement. Claimants who are unusually young and those who are victims of “extraordinary injuries” associated with the failed hip may be entitled to more settlement money. Product liability laws are mostly state-specific, including the statue of limitations or the law limiting the time in which a case can be filed. Reliable medical record review services are a great support to product liability attorneys helping them with timely review of medical records, and preparation of medical case chronology and summary.

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