I think the hardest thing about helping medical malpractice victims is the challenge of fighting what is a one-sided narrative: your medical records.
As a doctor friend recently put it to me – those records are like the bible. And the way they are written favor the author.
It’s all I have to go by to choose whether or not this is a case that I can, wholeheartedly, take on.
I’ve been recently speaking with some potential clients who clearly have been wronged. Their partners have died. They are traumatized. They don’t know where to look for help. All I want to do is help.
But rarely is there a smoking gun.
Many times it is a series of errors in patients who have complicated medical histories.
And many times I have to turn them away. It breaks my heart, but I have to. It is not worth their time if I can’t prove their case, nor is it worth the tremendous expense.
All I have are medical records and they show a very incomplete picture. Most of the time they are not very detailed and what scant details are shown do not say – “we made a mistake that resulted in xyz and we are now attempting to correct that mistake.”
The errors are between the lines. They are unsaid and not told until the patient goes to another doctor. But my potential clients have all died. They don’t have another voice, another doctor to consult.
You can try to put together the pieces (which is my job) but your often working with a puzzle that is missing pieces, and you have to make guesses.
So what can you do?
Honestly, it might seem like the last thing you would think of doing when you are going to see your physician. But, you carry a mini-recorder with you wherever you go located in your phone.
I don’t like it, but I don’t see another alternative…
Turn on your voice memo function when you are going in to see your doctor. On the plus side, it will help you remember what they say when they give you advice about what you should do about your health.
But, it can also help you in case they do something wrong and the medical records don’t show it.
The truth is most doctors are under tremendous stress. When they make an error on a bad day the consequences are life altering.
The stats show that most malpractice is committed by a small percentage of physicians. That is a great thing.
Bad outcomes happen, but malpractice doesn’t happen often.
The best thing you can do is to make sure you are with a great doctor (get referrals, ask questions, be diligent and inquisitive). And, if you are in doubt, ask for a second opinion from another doctor.
I don’t think the game is fair. Medicine, as a business, makes it difficult for all sides. So be prepared as much as you can. And when in doubt about how you have been treated, find another doctor to give that second opinion.
If you want to proceed legally, act fast (read my past blog post if you are a Louisiana native) so you don’t lose your opportunity to file a claim.
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