In the United States, medical malpractice is reported as one of the main causes of avoidable accidents. Studies report that approximately 250,000 people in the U.S. die every year from medical errors. Isn’t it alarming?
Medical malpractice refers to the act of incompetence of a physician or a healthcare provider that may lead to traumatic, lifelong disabilities or even the death of a patient. It is estimated that 80% of medical malpractice cases involve critical patient injuries or deaths. Medical malpractice reviews can influence medical malpractice lawsuits to a great extent.
Common medical malpractice errors
Below are some examples of situations where negligence or fault may result in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Premature discharge
- Surgical errors
- Poor medical treatment and aftercare
- Failure to order necessary testing
- Failure to act on the findings
- Leaving objects inside the patient’s body after a surgery
- Errors in diagnosis or delayed diagnosis
- Birth injury
- Hospital-acquired infections
- Prescribing the wrong medication or the wrong dosage
- Improper dosage of anesthesia
- Drug administration errors
Below are the top three complaints of malpractice in the US:
Failure to diagnosis- 31.8%, medical errors and complications – 26.9%, prescription errors- 24.5%, and other causes -24.5%.
Potential patient loss in a medical malpractice
According to malpractice attorneys in the United States, the following loss to the patient would be considered damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Consistent pain & suffering
- Enduring hardship
- Significant financial loss
- Emotional trauma
What if an individual becomes a medical malpractice victim?
In the case of medical malpractice, the individual should pursue the help of an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
What do these Attorneys do? They litigate medical malpractice lawsuits for the plaintiff, who is either a survivor of medical malpractice or a legal representative of the victim. The defendant would be the healthcare provider or any healthcare professional involved in the medical malpractice.
Here we will take a look at medical malpractice lawsuits in the US in a nutshell.
Medical malpractice regulation in the United States has historically been governed by individual states instead of the federal government. The system and rules that govern it have been developed based on state court decisions.
Medical malpractice claims come under “tort law,” which deals with an injury to persons or property. When brought for trial, medical negligence lawsuits are mostly filed as civil torts. In some cases, they may also be held as a crime.
Is a negative outcome from a medical therapy always indicative of malpractice?
No. A qualified medical witness expert approved by the court analyses this. He will assist the Attorney in proving that the defendant’s health care provider’s activities amounted to medical malpractice.
How informed consent can influence a medical malpractice lawsuit?
Informed consent is a legal document with relevant medical details given by the physician to the patient prior to any medical procedure. The physician should discuss the procedure in detail and the risks associated with it. The health care provider may be found accountable if the procedure causes pain or damage and no consent is given by the patient.
Will the consent forms rule out the chance of a medical malpractice lawsuit? There could be two possible scenarios.
An adequately filled consent form would likely preclude a patient from suing a doctor in the following circumstances.
- The consent form clearly outlines the medical intervention and the possible complications.
- There was no obligation on the patient to sign the form
- The patient was intellectually stable to sign the document
A healthcare provider, on the other hand, is liable for any medical errors made during the procedure that ends up with a complication. In such cases, informed consent cannot prevent the patient from suing the healthcare provider.
Role of medical records in malpractice lawsuits
Any medical malpractice litigation demands the claimant’s medical chart to substantiate the argument. The term ‘medical record’ may sound plain, but it is voluminous data. Let’s take a peek at a patient report quickly.
A medical chart will accommodate the following patient data.
- Demographics (age, gender, marital status, race, religion, employment details, contact information, etc.)
- Developmental history
- Immunization details and allergic history
- Current and previous medications
- Medical reports
- Medical encounters and surgical history
- Family history
- Social habits
I hope now you have a better understanding of how elaborate a medical record would be. For a medical malpractice claim, the collected medical record is subjected to a medical record review process. From that, only the medical evidence relevant to the malpractice claim is retrieved.
Now you know how vital a medical record review is when it comes to a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Who does the medical chart reviewing?
Medical record review and analysis may be done either by the legal team of the attorney or maybe offshored to an external agency. Continue reading to find out how medical chart review outsourcing can help with better medical malpractice settlement. As discussed before, reviewed medical records serve as crucial evidence for medical malpractice litigations. In such a scenario, there is no doubt that the medical record review process should be handled by medical experts. An experienced medical record reviewing team in an outsourcing company would outshine a legal team in reviewing any complicated medical record.
Medical record review challenges for a medical malpractice claim
Let me share with you the challenges found in the medical records review.
- Complicated medical terminologies and shorthands
A medical chart will contain abundant medical terminologies and shorthands. It would be difficult for a legal professional to crack those down and follow the medical chart.
- Relevancy of medical records with the malpractice claim
A medical record would be stuffed with the entire medical history of the claimant. All of this information is not required to be presented as testimony in a medical malpractice case. Only those data pertinent to the claim need to be identified and picked out.
- Missing medical records
The medical chart of a claimant need not always be accurately submitted for medical record review. Missing medical records may result in the loss of significant evidence in medical malpractice claims.
- Medical records tampering
In medical malpractice litigations, the medical file may be tampered with to conceal the evidence. Tampering with or making illegal corrections in medical records should be identified during medical record review.
- Analyzing strengths and weaknesses of the case
There would be strengths and weaknesses in any medical misconduct claim that would be based on the plaintiff’s medical record. This factor will determine the success probability of any malpractice litigation. No doubt, a medical records review should accurately establish this.
- Deviation of the health care professional from the standard of care
In any medical malpractice litigation, the health care professional would have breached the standard of care, resulting in an injury to the claimant. This relationship could be precisely revealed in the medical record review and analysis.
Benefits of offshoring medical record review services for malpractice lawsuits
You would now have a clear idea of the challenges a medical record can pose in a malpractice case. A certified outsourcing agency providing medical record review services will be staffed by professionals from the medical arena. These experts can easily.
- Follow the complicated medical terminologies and shorthands used by the physicians in the medical record.
- Identify if any medical records are missing or tampered
- Sort out the medical data related to the malpractice claim
- Identify the strengths and weaknesses of the case
Let’s have a look at other advantages of offshoring medical records review to medical records outsourcing companies.
Medical record review companies will have high data security infrastructure and tools. This will guarantee strict privacy of the data. These organizations follow HIPAA regulations (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which ensure the confidentiality of the claimant’s medical data. So no more worries about data privacy.
2. Multilevel quality analysis and audit trail
Even minute details in the medical data can influence the success rate of malpractice litigation. This demands multilevel auditing and cross-checking of medical record review reports. External agencies providing medical record review and analysis will have different levels of content check and quality analysis process. This will undoubtedly be mirrored in the consistency and accuracy of the medical record review reports.
3. Transparency and timely communication
When the medical record review is outsourced to a medical record review outsourcing company, a high degree of transparency can be ensured. This will be an added advantage to any medical malpractice litigation claim.
Moreover, when the evaluation process is delegated to a medical record review specialist, time will be saved. An expert medical record review company will produce high-quality review reports in a less Turn-Around-Time (TAT). This could be very crucial in a malpractice lawsuit.
Is that all about the advantages of outsourcing medical record reviews? NO. They offer a lot more to you.
Bookmarking is one of the most important PDF document navigational resources, allowing the reader to easily identify and revisit key points in the medical record. Bookmarking can be based on
- Facility or provider wise: Bookmarking will be based on the facility and providers involved in the treatment history of the claimant.
- Type of medical record: Medical records are arranged and combined, with chronological bookmarks made for each document form/visit type. For example, radiology reports, nursing notes, physical therapy notes, etc.
- Chronological order: Bookmarking will be done based on a chronological date order found in the medical record.
The original medical record and the final summarized document are merged as a single PDF document so that the reader can access both the documents simultaneously with interlinks between the summary and the source medical records This will help the reader to easily cross-check with the original medical record if any clarification warrants.
Indexing is the process of rearranging and sorting the shuffled medical record into an organized, easily readable document. Indexing will be done as per the interest of the Attorney.
This feature helps you understand medical terminologies used in medical chronologies, narrative summaries, and deposition transcripts.
- Treatment timeline
It’s a graphical representation of the chronological events of a medical record. Going through the treatment timeline, the attorney can easily get a better view of the medical data associated with the particular medical malpractice litigation.
- Medical expense report
Medical expenses for services provided are registered in a different spreadsheet and are sorted in chronological order. This includes details like the date of treatment, treatment provider/facility, types of treatment rendered, and expenses incurred. This will help the attorney have a better understanding of the expenses the claimant had to incur with the medical malpractice incident.
- Pain and suffering report
It is a separate report accommodating the clinical data about the pain and suffering the claimant had to go through due to the malpractice. This analysis will assist in increasing the likelihood of a successful lawsuit.
- Medical synopsis
Medical synopsis is an overview of the claimant’s medical history. It would be fruitful for the medical malpractice Attorneys to study the medical history of the plaintiff and the merits and demerits of the case.
I am confident that after reading this article, you can understand that medical record review outsourcing cannot be overstated in medical malpractice litigation. A chronologically organized, hassle-free medical chart review report will be the outcome when the process is offshored to an external agency that provides medical chart reviews for physicians and law firms. Outsourcing medical record review services would not only save time and money for the Attorney but also helps the claimant get a more favorable settlement.