A medical timeline or medical case chronology is very important in a medical malpractice case. Medical malpractice trial attorneys usually rely on medical review services to examine the voluminous medical records involved in the case and create a chronology. In this way, the medical records and the content therein can be easily decoded into valuable, clear information that the attorney can use.
Why is a chronology so important in a medical malpractice case? Let us consider the case of a patient who unfortunately died due to alleged negligence on the part of a healthcare provider. Suppose this victim was treated at two different facilities, and according to the records, one of the facilities failed to properly diagnose a serious internal injury. The first hospital sent the patient to the second hospital to treat for that particular injury. However, as per the medical chart, the latter failed to provide the proper treatment and a few days after discharge the patient died.
In a case such as this, the medical records will have to be obtained from both the healthcare facilities. To understand what actually happened and in what sequence the events occurred, a timeline/chronology will have to be created on the basis of the medical records. This is what an expert medical reviewer would do first. Such a timeline would clearly show what diagnostic methods were used to identify the injury at the first hospital, what the diagnosis was, as well as why and when the patient was sent to the second hospital. The medical records review to create the chronology would also bring to light the negligence of the second hospital and their failure to provide the apt treatment. It is important to remember that untrained people will not be able to track negligent events, and this is what makes professional medical record review for attorneys a significant service.
This brings us to the importance of accurate documentation. In a case such as the one mentioned above, negligent documentation and failure to record important details would prove damaging to the hospital. There was no medical record entry that could substantiate an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Simply put, anything that is not documented has not been done. In such an event, there are 2 possibilities – either the hospital provided the treatment and did not record it appropriately, or they did not provide the required treatment at all. In the absence of proper charting, the hospital will anyway be held accountable for the patient’s death.
Accurate and reliable medical documentation is very important to both plaintiffs and defendants in medical malpractice litigation. In fact, the medical record is the sole evidence that can clearly tell the story of what happened to a patient during various medical encounters. Speaking from the defense side, the chart created by the physician/healthcare provider is the single thing that will help or hurt them in litigation. It will be difficult to defend oneself in the absence of strong, concise and defensive documentation. Accurate documentation will provide a strong foundation on which the provider can stand in the face of legal scrutiny. The patient medical chart should therefore provide an accurate chronology of all medical events without any gaps or incongruities.