Tips for Screening Medical Cases for Merit
As human beings, having empathy for those who are suffering due to an accident or medical treatment gone wrong is inevitable.
However, plaintiff attorneys simply can’t take on every single case that is presented to them. When it comes to a class action, personal injury, product liability or medical malpractice lawsuit: it pays to put some resources into the research process before accepting a case.
This is something that Legal Nurse Consultants (LNCs) like us at National Nurse Consulting specialize in. Frankly, the best time to retain an LNC is before you even accept and begin working on a case involving injury or medical outcomes.
With a thorough review of the medical records, and possibly sitting in on interviews: LNCs can alert you to important gaps in treatment, patient noncompliance, standards of medical care, pre-existing conditions ,and other issues that may indicate that a particular case is going to be difficult, if not impossible, for you to win.
Let’s look at a couple examples:
In a recent case, a 62-year old man diagnosed with prostate cancer elected to undergo a da Vinci robotic prostatectomy. During the procedure, the surgeon nicked the patient’s bowel, resulting in a serious infection and requiring additional surgery. What was expected to be a brief recovery became a 4-month ordeal, from which the patient ultimately recovered.
Due primarily to an inability to work during the recovery period, the patient sought legal assistance to seek restitution. However, after reviewing the case, we (the LNCs) determined that while the situation was clearly unfortunate, the patient had been advised that the resulting complications were a known risk of the surgery and that the patient had agreed to undergo the procedure regardless. The patient also was not charged for the additional procedures required after the initial surgery, so did not incur additional medical expenses. Thus, we advised that the case was non-meritorious.
In another case, A 68- year old woman was diagnosed with an aggressive form of bladder cancer and unfortunately passed away after a brief round of treatment. Her son claimed that the doctor was at fault in diagnosing the cancer too late and not starting treatment immediately. The son wanted to file a suit against the physicians.
Upon review of medical records, we (the LNCs) determined that the patient had cancelled numerous physician and diagnostic appointments which likely delayed the diagnosis by more than 6 months. After meeting with the oncologist, the patient also did not show up for a number of chemotherapy appointments, which again delayed the start of treatment again by several weeks. Based on these records, we advised the attorney that the case was non-meritorious due to patient non-adherence.
These examples show that the trained eye of a Legal Nurse Consultant can identify details hidden deep within medical records and prevent attorneys from taking on cases without merit. Why waste your time, energy, money and resources? As LNCs, we have the experience to provide you with this information quickly so that you can focus on building your business and representing clients that do have a case with a strong likelihood of success.