February 2, 2020

If you suspect that you or a loved one have been harmed by medical malpractice, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer near you who may gather the facts from you, obtain relevant medical records, and investigate the circumstances of your injuries. What you should not do is accuse the offending medical provider of causing your injuries or advise that you are investigating a medical malpractice claim against the medical provider(s). You should also not give any oral or written statements regarding your possible medical malpractice claim to anyone (for example, the risk manager of the hospital where you were injured), unless and until you have been instructed to do so by your medical malpractice lawyer.

Medical malpractice lawyers throughout the United States have their own protocols and methods of investigating and pursuing medical malpractice claims on behalf of their clients. Many will draft their own medical records requests on behalf of potential medical malpractice clients and obtain the relevant medical records directly from the medical providers. While we do not (and will not) provide any legal advice to those who believe they may be victims of medical negligence, we believe that it is a good idea for people suspecting medical malpractice as the cause of their injuries to promptly request a copy of their entire medical records from all medical providers (that would include from physicians who provided the medical services and from the medical facilities where the services were provided, such as surgical centers where the surgery was performed that resulted in an unexpected outcome).

Many medical providers have websites on which patients may find a form for requesting their medical records from the medical providers and will instruct patients what is necessary in order to obtain their records. It is not necessary for patients to advise their medical providers the reason they are requesting their medical records, and patients should not check a box or advise in writing that the purpose is for legal reasons. The request for medical records should request the patient’s “entire chart,” which includes every document, writing, and other tangible item regarding the patient. If x-rays or other radiological imaging is relevant, many hospitals require that a separate request for imaging be sent to their radiology department (and not to the medical records department). Check with the hospital regarding to whom records requests should be addressed. Many times all of the medical records for a hospital inpatient stay will not be available until weeks after the patient is discharged from the hospital; a telephone call to the medical records department may help determine if the patient’s medical chart is complete (or when it may be completed). Often (but not always) it is the discharge summary completed after the patient is discharged from an inpatient hospital stay that is missing from a patient’s chart.

Often a patient’s medical records are in electronic form and a copy of the records can be requested to be provided in electronic form, such as downloaded to a CD or flash drive. However, make sure (i.e., ask) that the CD or other electronic records provided can be opened and viewed by the patient without using any proprietary software or that the software is provided on the CD (which is often the situation with radiology imaging).

Once received, the patient should not write or highlight anything in the medical records received; if notes written on or highlighting of the medical records may be helpful to remember in the future what happened, a second copy of the original medical records can be made for such purposes. Always keep for yourself a complete and unadulterated copy of the medical records received from providers (if you provide a medical malpractice lawyer who is investigating your claim with the medical records in your possession, always keep in your possession a complete copy of what you provided to the lawyer).

Many medical malpractice lawyers will instruct their clients to promptly create and maintain a detailed diary regarding their malpractice claim, including dates of treatment, the identity of the treaters, what was said during meetings with treaters, and how they physically and mentally felt, in chronological order) – the more detail, the better. The diary should not be shown to anyone (you can ask others for their recollections if that will assist you in keeping a proper diary). The existence of the diary should not be disclosed to anyone other than your medical malpractice lawyer. When writing in your diary, you should keep in mind the possibility that your diary contents may be discovered and disclosed during the medical malpractice litigation.

It is imperative that you not post on any social media any information, however remote, regarding your medical malpractice claim or alleged injuries. Imagine the effect if a medical malpractice plaintiff claims that he can no longer walk great distances or has pain and discomfort when walking yet he posted a photo of himself smiling while riding a waverunner during a Mexico vacation (even if he just sat on the waverunner and was not operating it). You should fully discuss with your medical malpractice lawyer any social media postings you may have made before hiring the lawyer so that the lawyer may advise you regarding past postings (removing social media postings may be just as bad as posting them in the first place).

Do not discuss your medical malpractice claim with anyone other than close family members you trust and your medical malpractice lawyer and staff. Imagine if you discussed your claim or injuries with your neighbor next door and then the defense attorney deposes that person or calls on that person to testify against you during the trial. Your medical malpractice lawyer will advise you what you can disclose and to whom.

Rely on your medical malpractice lawyer to answer your questions and advise you regarding any matters that may arise – the only dumb question is the question you do not ask your lawyer. You hired your lawyer for a reason – now rely on that lawyer to represent you to the best of his/her abilities by cooperating with and assisting your lawyer. If you have not heard from your lawyer and have questions regarding the status of your medical malpractice claim, call him/her or email him/her, whichever method you and your lawyer selected for effective and timely communication. If you do not hear back from your lawyer in what you consider to be a reasonable period of time to respond, contact him/her again. Your lawyer works for you – not the other way around.

If you or a loved one were injured (or worse) as a result of the medical negligence in the United States, you should promptly find a local medical malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

Visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice attorneys in your U.S. state who may assist you.

Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.