Product liability medical record review is required in personal injury cases that stem from defective products such as defective medical equipment, expired or counterfeit drugs, exposure to toxic substance and so on. Typically, product liability lawsuits are consolidated cases with a number of plaintiffs spread across multiple states. These lawsuits require the collection and review of large-volume medical records which could run into tens of thousands of pages or even more. Product liability cases require a clear understanding of the medical facets of the allegations.
Product liability cases include those involving defective (design defect or manufacturing defect) medical devices; contaminated medical devices; medical devices without adequate warnings or those marketed in a misleading way; pharmaceuticals that allegedly caused health issues/death; defective or tainted pharmaceuticals; drugs prescribed for “off-label” uses; and so on.
Medical chart review is the foremost requirement when developing a product liability case, just as other personal injury cases. The medical evidence gathered from the medical records enables the plaintiff attorney to prove the defendant’s liability. Medical documentation including medical bills and medical notes are also vital to determine the compensation value in most cases. The medical records that are usually required in a product liability case include the following:
- Admission notes
- Admission history and physicals
- Progress notes from the physician
- ER records
- Physician orders
- Surgery reports
- Lab reports
- Medication records
- Discharge summaries
Typically, the medical records needed as well as other relevant documents have to be obtained via patient consent or court order. Once the records are obtained, the next step is reviewing them. Here is a general outline of the medical review process.
- Medical record organization, indexing, and review
- Analyze the complex medical data, medical jargon, medical abbreviations, protocols and so on
- Review of earlier medical records to identify pre-existing conditions, injuries and whether the person is prone to injury
- Describe the standard of care
- Evaluate the severity of the injury
- Preparation of medical case chronology and summary
- Identifying missing documentation, omissions, errors, tampering with the medical records.
A review of the medical records helps understand whether the plaintiff was hurt by the product. They will reveal how the plaintiff was hurt, any permanent or temporary disability, the treatments undergone or those that may be required in the future. Apart from the medical records, the medical bills and other expenses incurred by the plaintiff in relation to the injury will also be analyzed. This is vital to understand how the injury has cost the plaintiff financially so that the jury or the insurance company can determine the rightful compensation.
The medical case summary prepared by a medical record review company is very useful for the defense side as well. It will highlight any prior health conditions of the plaintiff as well as any mental health issues that could contribute to the allegations.
For both plaintiff and defense attorneys, medical record review helps reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the case at an early stage itself, so that they can work on the appropriate case strategy. A company providing medical record review for personal injury law firms can prepare master audit sheets that contain all the required information – date of surgery, provider/facility details, revision surgeries, reason for revision surgery, injuries sustained, temporary or permanent disability, abnormal lab values and so on. Medical record reviewers create customized reports and collaborate with experts in specific medical specialties to provide timely, cost-effective, and comprehensive reports. The evidence required in a product liability case can be rather complex and hard to locate. This is why professional medical record review services become useful for personal injury attorneys.