Medical records are an absolutely essential part to any medical malpractice case. Hospitals and healthcare administrators often house all records for their patients. When you are involved in a medical malpractice case, you will want to gather as much of your medical records as you can to provide them to your attorney. Unfortunately, once the hospital or care center realizes you are obtaining your records for the purpose of pursuing a medical malpractice case, you may encounter significant slowdown. Being the victim of medical malpractice is frustrating enough, but administrative slowdown will make matters more frustrating. Working with your attorney to get your records can help smooth out the process.
Methods Of Obtaining Records For Your Medical Malpractice Attorney
When you want to obtain your records, there are a few ways of doing so. Medical records are considered to be sensitive information. This means that they cannot be provided to just anyone, so you may need to obtain them yourself. If the hospital is giving you the runaround, you can have your attorney get involved with a subpoena.
Direct Request to Hospital
You are always entitled to the ability to retrieve your own records yourself. There are certain exceptions to this, though they are rare, such as in the case of mental illness or psychotherapy records that could result in physical harm to the patient. In general, however, when you make a request to a hospital or other care center for your records, they are required to provide these to you. Many hospitals and care centers have their own processes for making requests for records. This can mean having to send letters or fill out request forms. Many hospitals have a lengthy and complicated process for fulfilling file requests. Other times, healthcare administrators will use third party vendors to house records, further slowing down the process. If you are working with an attorney, the care center will likely have its own process for you to authorize the release of your records to your attorney.
Once your case has been filed, those medical records are now essential to the progress of the case. This means that if the care center holding your records is making unnecessary delays, you can subpoena those records that you need for the case. A subpoena is a court order for the release of essential documents or evidence. Your attorney will know how to submit a subpoena for you to get those records. The care center must fulfill a subpoena.
Retaining Your Records
The simplest way to make the record-gathering process easier for both you and your medical malpractice attorney is to retain your own records. When you are admitted into a hospital, you will likely be given at least some of the pertinent records upon leaving. It is important to hold on to these records, and retain them yourself. Medical malpractice is not always immediately detected. Holding on to your records can streamline the process of making a claim when any evidence of medical malpractice comes to light, and you decide to pursue a case. If you are able to retain your records, you can store them digitally, or in a file folder.
What To Ask For/Retain
When the time comes to obtain your records, there are a number of things to ask for. Typically, in a medical malpractice case, the more information you can begin with, the better. Some records you will want to retain or seek out include, but are not limited to:
- Discharge Reports: When you are released, or discharged, from hospital care, you will receive reports and possible instructions for post-hospital care, as well as a summary of your care at the hospital. Discharge can be a dangerous and complicated time period for patients, and proper instruction on home care can be just as important as good hospital care.
- Surgical Records: If you have been in surgery, you will want a record of what was done. Surgical decisions and operations are all recorded, and used to make further determinations on your care. If anything goes wrong during surgery, these records will help you and your attorney during the case.
- Initial Diagnoses: From the moment you enter a doctor's care, the doctor will be surveying your symptoms to look for solutions. You will want to obtain your initial diagnoses, as well as any subsequent diagnoses that follow as more symptoms arise. These are used by doctors to make decisions that affect both your care and your life.
- Prescriptions: When you leave hospital care, you will be provided prescriptions for medications to help you with either pain or recovery. Due to the disjointed nature of the healthcare industry, a slip up can occur at any stage in the process of you traveling from the hospital to you getting the pills
- Medical History: Your medical history, as well as any family medical history is used to make decisions when you are in the care of a doctor. Oftentimes, in a medical malpractice case, expert witnesses can be used to review medical histories to see where your doctor went wrong.
- Lab Test Results: In most healthcare settings, you will be asked to run a number of tests. Tests give doctors a decision-making tool and a viewpoint on what your illness is. Like medical histories, test results can be re-examined by an expert witness in court.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, you will want a skilled and experienced attorney at your side. Contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian today.