A mass tort being a civil lawsuit with multiple injured parties who are considered individually regarding their case and compensation, involves comprehensive medical records analysis. Mass tort case development can be quite daunting, especially for law firms that are brand new to this type of cases. Today, leveraging technology to handle the administrative tasks is vital to handle the thousands of claims and build a successful mass tort practice. Apart from that, there are some best practices mass tort attorneys can follow to ensure successful mass tort case development.
- Ensure Proper Communication with Clients and Keep them Updated: This is of utmost importance, but can be challenging, considering the vast number of claims to handle. Also, have a clear idea about the clients’ goals. This can be achieved through detailed discussions with the clients that will bring to light what the clients’ actual expectations are. It is also vital to openly discuss the cost of achieving such goals. Once the goals are clear, keep those goals constantly in view before making any strategic decisions. Here are a few things to note:
- Have a web page that provides the right answers to some frequently asked questions from clients. Also, include any forms they are required to complete.
- Have a separate toll-free number for each mass tort litigation you are working on. Incoming calls can be routed to the appropriate line automatically using reliable call center technology.
- A record must be maintained of each call so that it can be referred to, if needed in the future. Client calls are best recorded with call logs and detailed call notes. This helps track information such as time, date, and length of calls that in turn helps evaluate time and resource needs in the future.
- Make sure that the staff has on hand the answers to the frequently asked questions. It is vital to train the staff properly and rigorously so that the clients get clear, accurate, and reliable information. If the staff is trained on different litigations, they can easily access the data needed to respond to the injuries.
- Have a Reporting System that Facilitates Real-time Reports: Such a system will also help reduce or even eliminate the need to check through various records and spreadsheets. A good system would provide information on the number of cases in each phase of the development process; how long they have remained in that phase; cases that meet the intake criteria and those that don’t; whether all the medical records relevant have been collected; and also, whether there are any barriers preventing the progress of the case.
- Ensure that Apart from Overview Reports, Individual Client Data is Available: This is required to find proper answers to important questions, find out if any information is missing, and evaluate the legal validity of the case.
- Start with the outcome and then work backward from there: In any mass tort case, the settlement value is very important to the clients, partners, and the attorneys themselves. Therefore, you need to have a clear understanding of the number of compensable cases and what their value is. Cases should not get rejected halfway because they are not legally valid, because this will negatively impact profitability.
Now, some important factors related to developing the case.
- Plaintiff Fact Sheet Preparation: Mass tort cases involve a large number of plaintiffs and courts may order plaintiff fact sheets instead of individual discovery. Courts differ in the type of plaintiff fact sheets; some courts use shorter plaintiff profile forms whereas some others use extensive forms. To meet the approaching court deadline and avoid undue stress, attorneys can consider the following tips.
- Start the plaintiff fact sheet preparation as soon as there is documentation to prove the client has a qualifying injury and was exposed to the drug or product that is defective.
- A copy of the plaintiff fact sheet can be sent to each client and give them time to properly complete it.
- Ensure that your office staff handles client calls properly. They must be compassionate and supportive of the client. Also, they must make sure that complete and accurate information about the claim is obtained. Office staff can be provided training about the litigation, and they should understand each and every question on the plaintiff fact sheet.
- Before performing the medical record review, identify the medical-related questions in the plaintiff fact sheet.
- Medical Records Analysis: Typically, mass tort cases involve a physical injury. This makes medical records an essential consideration in the development of a mass tort case. It is from these records that attorneys extract the medical facts pertinent to the case. The medical records also provide evidence regarding use, injury, treatment, and pre-existing conditions that could delay or even eliminate recovery. The medical records available include the following:
- History and Physical: These documents give the reason for the patient’s admission. They also contain data such as preliminary differential diagnoses, pre-existing conditions, and treatment plan.
- Lab Results: These support the data recorded in the medical records.
- Consultations: These are records of consultations performed by a specialist. More details of the injury are recorded, as well as the cause of the injury, necessary treatment, and expected outcome.
- Prescription and pharmacy records, surgical records, and therapy notes among other records.
- Discharge Summary: This record gives a detailed summary of the entire hospital stay, all medical encounters, complications that may have occurred, lasting impact of the injury, and follow-up care.
Mass tort medical record reviews can be made more efficient and streamlined with the support of an experienced medical peer review company. They will ensure that the correct medical records most relevant to the injury and its litigation are obtained, and that no time is wasted on hunting down irrelevant records. This will help save money and time. A reliable medical review firm will know what information to look for in the medical records and extract that. A medical review company is a great option that busy attorneys can consider for reviewing the medical records as well as for plaintiff fact sheet preparation, both time-consuming, complex tasks that are best outsourced.