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How your medical records hurt you…

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.
 
Phew!!
 
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.
 
And always remember:
 
Accidents Happen…Get Reddy!

Why should I get my medical records?…Your My Lawyer, Do Your Job!

I am your attorney and I promise, I am doing my job :).

Sometimes, us attorneys get the short end of the stick.  The world doesn’t think too kindly of us – until they need an attorney (which we all do at some point in our life).

I was recently at a Tony Robbin’s event (the motivational speaker guy).  He did a poll of the stadium we were in.  He asked:

“How many people here are business owners – raise your hands.  Most of the room raised their hand.”

“How many of you are doctors – raise your hands. About ten percent of the room raised their hand.”

“How many of you are lawyers – raise your hand – ok put them down we don’t want to know who you are.” 

That’s the joke right.  There are so many of us and no-one likes us.  Hence the many jokes in our vernacular.  And, even, the most lovable motivational guy in the world, who has made hundreds of millions and, undoubtedly, employs a team of lawyers, makes jokes about us.

So, naturally, it makes sense why clients may scoff at hearing that I request them to get medical records to me before I take their case.

Ok you got me, I am lazy and cheap.  My mom has been saying it my whole life and I guess some things stick, right?

Wrong.  She was wrong (I love you mom) and the understanding as to why we request you get this for us, has been interpreted incorrectly.

Can you guess the number 1 reason we ask you to get medical records for us?

Drum roll…because the hospitals’ lawyers will make it difficult for us to get them. 

That’s right.  Once, you hear that you have an attorney on the other end of a request for anything – you immediately tighten up.  Even other attorneys do this. 

Ask yourself how you would feel if you heard the following at the other end of a phone call.

“Hi, my name is Ramesh Reddy, I’d like to ask you a few questions, do you have a moment?”

versus

“Hi, my name is Ramesh Reddy, I am a attorney, I’d like to ask you a few questions, do you have moment?”

You feel different right?  Which one makes you feel less at ease?  The second one, no doubt.

So, when we ask you to get your medical records, it is for your own benefit, not ours. 

First of all, discovering whether you have malpractice claim goes so much faster.  You are entitled to get those records on the same day you request them.  You can show up at the hospital and demand your records and images on disk. 

They must give you a digital copy of your images, and if you request your records on the disk, most facilities will happily comply to save the ink.  Once you give them to us, we can begin our investigatory work immediately, instead of waiting the thirty to sixty days it would normally take to get our records.

Second, believe it or not, when defense lawyers start getting involved before a lawsuit is filed in court, they will withhold certain information from those records that may prove incriminating.  I know, it sounds creepy and illegal, but they do this. 

In one case a friend of mine had, the opposing counsel, later on in the trial, produced incriminating evidence showing the sponge count of sponges that were used in a procedure (one of which was left in the patient who filed the law suit).  

They claimed it was an internal document and was not required to be produced based on the initial request made by the lawyer.  

Yet it proved the case for the plaintiff’s lawyers, but only after years of waiting for it!  Defense counsel happily billed their client for their time, even though they should have done the right thing from the start.  

Hmmm…I may be rethinking my view of lawyers

So, even though some lawyers are lazy and cheap, at the Reddy Law Group, I can assure you we are neither.  If the hospital charges you for the records, we will happily pay you what they charged you.  Once we get the records, we promise to get back to you, ASAP, on your chances of succeeding.

Raise your hand if you love your lawyer now!