Medical records and medical chart review are integral to any personal injury case, whether auto accident, slip and fall, medical negligence or product liability among others. Only the medical documentation can demonstrate the injury sustained, its nature and extent, the pain and suffering the injured party experienced, the treatments and care given, ongoing medical care needed and the impact the injury may have on the plaintiff’s life.
Apart from proving the injury, medical record review is also vital to establish that the injury was caused by another party’s negligence. Therefore, in any personal injury lawsuit, review of the relevant medical records is the primary consideration.
The medical records relevant to the injury case must support the plaintiff’s story. For instance, if a bone is fractured or an organ injured, the X-rays and scans must show that. Such solid evidence from the treatment providers is vital to ensure that the injury is not a faked one. Accurate medical documentation is indispensable to both the plaintiff and defense sides.
Medical records can:
- Clearly illustrate the timeline of the plaintiff’s injury, the medical expenses incurred, and how it has affected the plaintiff’s life.
- Provide concrete evidence of the injury to the judge and jury regarding the injury and that the plaintiff underwent treatments for the same.
- Show the treating doctor’s prognosis for the injured person’s future medical requirements, treatments that may be needed, and the extent of pain and suffering experienced.
- Demonstrate how the injury will affect the individual for the rest of his/her life.
- Prove whether or not the plaintiff had any pre-existing conditions or medical complaints before the current injury.
A personal injury attorney, can with the support of a medical chart review company, utilize medical records appropriately to prove economic as well as non-economic damages. A complete medical chart will help track the financial costs of the injury – expenses related to hospital visits, surgeries, prescriptions, ambulatory fees, treatments, rehabilitation and so on. Alongside, the chart will also document chronic pain and suffering that come under intangible costs. Accurate review of the records helps to understand the prognosis and recovery time. When the attorney presents such information in court, it will help the judge determine to what extent the injury has affected the plaintiff, and continue to have an impact in his or her future life.
The medical record volume will depend on the type of personal injury lawsuit. Whatever the type of case, medical records can be voluminous and reviewing these in-house would be time-consuming and labor-intensive. A medical review company can assist attorneys in properly reviewing and summarizing the medical records. Medical record review and summarization for legal purposes have to be done with minute attention to detail and the information extracted has to be conveyed in a concise and effective manner.
Very importantly, the medical case summary prepared after reviewing the medical records is a valuable tool for the attorney throughout the litigation.
- The summary would accurately show the medical history and chronology, which are of great significance in personal injury cases.
- The information in the summary includes the date, time and visit, the healthcare providers, the treatments provided, and their outcome. This data enables the jury to clearly understand the treatment schedule and determine the extent of the injury, its impact and due compensation.
- A good case summary helps the attorney to present the case effectively.
Given the complexity involved in reviewing voluminous medical records, personal injury attorneys would find outsourced medical review solutions a practical and efficient option. Here is a look at the challenges attorneys may face.
- Voluminous medical documents – this could make review and summarization difficult. There is also the risk of missing out on important data.
- Challenge involved in identifying the existence and impact of a pre-existing condition. Non-medical personnel such as lawyers and their legal teams will find this kind of research for a medical condition quite challenging.
- The burden of medical record organization – the medical records are from different healthcare facilities and providers, and will be unorganized. These have to be arranged chronologically, and this requires considerable research and medical knowledge.
- Medical record organization and review to understand the background of the case can be time- and labor-intensive.
Outsourcing the chart review process will help speed up case processing. Since the complex medical records are simplified, it enables the legal team to have a better understanding of the case and expedite the court processes. An expert medical review team can help attorneys evaluate the strength of the personal injury case, and understand its plus points and limitations. A professional medical chart review company ensures the HIPAA-compliant solutions that attorneys need.