SAC: Well, I think it’s a good idea to begin documenting. Document what happened. Document everything that happens after the malpractice. Dates of surgery, lab results, if you have a CT Scan, the results of the CT Scan. Document the names of the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers involved.
John: Times, places of conversations.
SAC: Absolutely. And you may say well why do you want to document. Well, I think it helps you remember things if a lawsuit is filed in the future. You have the facts down. It will also help you explain your case when you do consult with an attorney and it also can help you explain your condition and case to a doctor that may treat you as a result of the malpractice. So documentation is very important.
The second thing that I would recommend is that you ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be intimidated. So many of our clients come to us because they want answers and they haven’t been given answers. You don’t have to be hostile, but be direct. Just ask why did this happen. How is this gonna be fixed. What’s the treatment plan from here on out. I also recommend if you are having those types of conversations, and you suspect malpractice, to maybe have a family member or friend in on those conversations. Sometimes it helps to have an objective person in on the situation to listen. They might think of questions that you are not thinking of to ask. Over the years, I have had clients come into the office and say, well I will ask them what were you told about why your loved on died. And they will tell me, I was told he had a cardio-pulmonary arrest or he died of a cardiac arrhythmia. In reality, everybody is gonna die of a cardiac arrhythmia or a cardio-pulmonary arrest. When I ask them well what did they say caused that, they didn’t ask that question. If you have an objective third party, you know, two heads are better than one. Perhaps more questions will be asked that will shed some light on the situation.
Another very important thing to do is to request a copy of your medical records. You want to get a copy of those records before there is any editing, alterations that might happen. Unfortunately, alteration of medical records does occur when there has been a bad result. Sometimes lab results are lost, the chart can be lost, entries are altered, additions are made. It would be much easier for your attorney to detect these alterations if you get a copy of the records close to the time the malpractice occurred.
I worked on a case in the office a number of years ago, where a lady was having some problems after surgery and she became friends with the receptionist in the doctor’s office. She said, can I get a copy of my medical records, I’d like to get a second opinion and the receptionist said sure and Xeroxed the three little pages of her medical records, she then did consult with an attorney who requested the records from the doctor and the attorney received a set a medical records that were quite larger and had many additions. This attorney did not do a lot of malpractice and referred the case to our office. I ordered another set of medical records from the doctor by an authorization and got more alternations and additions. Once the case was filed, I asked the defense attorney, can you please give me a copy of your client’s records. And the records got even better. A large volume of records, derogatory comments were added about my client, so, you know, that doesn’t happen very often, but that’s an extreme example of alterations in medical records.