Why Medical Chronology in Personal Injury Cases?

Medical chronology summary also called as medical synopsis  is a descriptive summary of timeline-based medical events extracted from the medical records. It  provides a concise, reliable, and explanatory description of a patient’s medical care. Medical chronology is a very important document in personal injury cases that warrant the relevant medical information from the medical records.

One widespread misunderstanding about  medical chronologies is that they are merely timelines of events with dates attached. Medical chronology review services will also include  date and time of visit, type of visit, names of healthcare provider/facility, and causation and prognosis of the medical event with  hyperlink and page number reference. In order to serve its purpose, a medical chronology must be clear, unbiased, insightful, and should include all relevant facts.

The personal injury attorney can have a convincing argument with the aid of a reliable medical chronology. Medical chronologies strengthen the claims of the plaintiff that may convince the defendant to opt for settlement.

This also helps the Attorney to be focused on the relevant points of the case, as missing and irrelevant information would be highlighted in the medical  chronology and summary.

Following are the important keynotes to ensure an effective medical chronology:

  • List all the facts precisely: Even if some details appear to be unrelated or doubtful, they may prove to be significant at a later stage of the summarization. So, it is vital to comprise all the significant facts in a case.
  • Early Preparation of medical chronologies: This is to ensure that all events leading up to the present medical condition of the patient are included. Any delay in preparing the summary can lead to misperception and significant medical events could be overlooked. But when started early, the medical chart review can be done efficiently and the  events can be chronologically listed.
  • Documentation of Missing Records: Missing records can prove to be problematic. Therefore, it is important to highlight any documents that are missing from the medical records retrieved from the healthcare facility. The missing records should be requested from the patient or the treating healthcare provider/facility.
  • Clearness in the medical chronology: This implies that all clinical language should be ideally avoided to make everything clear to the attorney and others with a non-clinical foundation.

medical-chronology-sample-for-personal-injury

Sample Medical Chronology for Personal Injury Case. Click here to Download full sample. 

 Medical Chronology Contents for a Personal Injury Lawsuit

    • Date of injury/Date of Loss: As far as the personal injury concerned, this is a very important component in the medical chronology summary.
    • Signs/Symptoms: All pertinent signs and symptoms of the injured plaintiff must be included in the medical case chronology. Accurate interpretation of medical contents in the records is necessary to pull out the relevant symptoms pertaining to the injury. This will put the attorney in clear understanding of the case in a medical perspective.
    • Examination: Physical examination of the injured person by the physician will give valuable insight regarding the impairments in ADL. This will also give supportive information to justify the diagnosis made.
    • Causation of the Injury: Cause of the accident and the mechanism of injury should be noted as per the narration of the patient.
    • Providers/Facility/Treatment Dates: Medical records will have the name of all healthcare providers  involved in the care of the patient. They include treating and non-treating physicians such as radiologists and pathologists. When documenting relevant reports, the medical record reviewer must include the name of the health care provider who undersigns, name of the facility where the injured plaintiff has taken the treatment and the date of treatment.
    • Diagnosis/Assessment: Generally, in medical records diagnosis/assessment is a concluding part of each office visit. Documentation of every diagnosis related to the injury is very much important as it will directly impact on the claim of the plaintiff.
    • Impairments: Details including whether the plaintiff is impaired temporarily or permanently, percentage of impairment and the extent of impairment should be noted.
    • Treatment plan/Recommendation: Recommended treatments and the treatments planned for the injured plaintiff should be noted in the medical case chronology. These may include prescriptions, surgeries, diagnostic studies or referral to specialties or therapies.
    • Necessity of Future medical care: A medical record reviewer must note the points that are implying future medical care. Also, the anticipated expense of each treatment should be noted.
    • Past medical treatments: if any treatments acquired by the injured in the past must be noted. This will help the attorney to determine whether the previous injury is the cause of current illness or worsening of current illness.
    • Prognosis/Prospects of recovery: A phase of recovery, predicted time required for recovery should be noted. This information may help the personal injury attorney to determine the amount of claim.

Med-A-Word, a quick reference tool can be very helpful along with medical case chronology. This will help the non-medical background professionals to understand the medical chronology.

Preparing Medical Chronology- A Challenge for the Attorneys

In a personal injury lawsuit, you can assume how critical the medical information of the plaintiff would be.

Fetching medical records from the healthcare facility is an important first step when preparing a medical chronology.

Legal firms initiate medical chronology preparation after interviewing the client. This is to get an idea on the priority of the data in the medical record. There is always a chance for misinterpretation in the client interview which can have negative impacts in the litigation.

The legal team need not understand the medical terminologies which would be there throughout the medical record in a personal injury case.

The legal staff may not be able to identify and sort out the medical data relevant to the personal injury claim. This may affect the final settlement.

How to prepare a precise medical chronology for a personal injury claim?

Given the value of the Plaintiff’s medical history in a personal injury lawsuit, it is often advisable to consider trained medical experts to prepare medical chronology. An experienced medical record review outsourcing agency would assist the personal injury Attorney with high quality medical chronology reports. This would help the attorney to evaluate the lawsuit better.

Benefits of Medical Chronology in a Personal Injury Claim

  • Provides clear understanding of diagnosis: An accurate medical chronology will provide clear details regarding the diagnosis made, its severity and its impacts on the patient’s lifestyle, activities of daily living, etc.
  • Aids to assess the strength and weakness of the claim: A well-documented medical record chronology helps the attorney to identify all the strong points in the case.
  • Helps to avoid errors: A non-medical legal persons like attorney or paralegal with no formal medical training could miss out on significant medical details. This may lead to errors when arguing the case. But medical chronologies by a good reviewer can help the attorney goes to court well prepared, and fully aware of all pertinent events.
  • Details regarding treatments: A good medical chronology details the treatments rendered by the patient in a given period of time. This will help the personal injury attorney to estimate the extent of the injury and its impacts.
  • Objective analysis of the medical records: Medical chronology services are usually handled by medical record review companies and their expert medical record reviewers. Hence they can provide an unprejudiced view of the medical records.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, personal injury attorneys depend more on medical chronology review services to understand medical records. Medical record chronologies are a source of information for the legal community to work closely on their case. It also helps them to understand the medical encounters related with the personal injury lawsuit in a timeline manner. A precise medical case chronology drafted by an expert medical chart review company can be used to strengthen the arguments of personal injury attorneys in the court or in settlement discussions.