If you or a loved one was injured while under the care of a medical professional, you might be traumatized and unsure of how to proceed. However, by seeking the counsel of a knowledgeable lawyer, you could have assistance with each step of the legal process to hold the negligent parties at fault and pursue compensation. An attorney could help with every element of a case, from explaining your rights and emphasizing the importance of evidence in St. Petersburg medical malpractice cases, to working tirelessly to file a thorough claim on your behalf.
The Steps Needed to Collect Evidence
Gathering evidence in a medical malpractice claim starts with the acquisition of the potential client’s medical records. In Florida, victims of malpractice should have unfettered access to all their medical records and documentation related to the treatment that they underwent. Sometimes, obtaining those records can be difficult, meaning that an injured individual will need to consult a lawyer or a law firm that specializes in that area to collect, review, and make sure that all the medical records are available.
In addition to medical records, potential claimants have the right to take an unsworn statement of the participating healthcare providers before a lawsuit is filed. This form of testimonial evidence is important in helping the victim understand what happened with respect to their unexpected medical outcome. Essentially, it is not easy to obtain this medical evidence from healthcare providers who are concerned about being sued, so it is very important that people who believe they may have been a victim of medical negligence speak with an experienced attorney for help.
The Evidence an Attorney Looks For
In reviewing the medical evidence—which is typically a comprehensive review of the medical records—the attorneys, as well as anyone they consult, look for documented deviations from the applicable standards of medical care. In Florida, malpractice is generally defined as a healthcare provider or facility deviating from the ordinary standard of care.
In surgical cases, for example, a surgeon may not have followed the standard preoperative, intraoperative, or postoperative standards of care, leading to a bad outcome for a patient. In other cases, healthcare providers may not prescribe the standard doses of medications.
The Typical Process for Collecting Proof
The typical process for collecting evidence starts by having a client execute a HIPAA medical authorization that gets sent to the participating healthcare providers. After a healthcare provider receives an appropriate HIPAA medical authorization from a patient or the patient’s next of kin, they are required to respond in a timely manner and provide the patient or the patient’s counsel with all the applicable medical records.
Once those medical records are received by the attorneys, those records are typically reviewed internally by the law firm and then decisions are made by the law firm about what, if any, medical consultants need to be engaged to review those records. In Florida, before a medical malpractice claim can be initiated, the patient is required to serve a document called a notice of intent to initiate litigation.
This document contains an affidavit signed by a same or similar specialty medical provider who swears under penalty of perjury that the claim has merit, which means that there are indications of malpractice leading to the injuries of the prospective client. These steps are challenging, however, and often require the skill and experience of an attorney.
How Evidence Varies
Depending upon the nature of the healthcare at issue, the type of evidence that the attorneys are looking for to find a basis for malpractice can come from a variety of places. For example, one good example could be in a cardiac case, when many individuals are undergoing heart catheterization procedures. In those types of cases, the actual imaging from the procedure itself inside the catheterization lab would be the key evidence to determine whether the operating doctor conducted the procedure in a standard fashion. Sometimes in post-operative situations, procedures like heart catheterizations can cause strokes. In those cases, the brain imaging that could be ordered and obtained after a patient suffers a complication could be very important for the attorneys and their consultants to review.
Lab work is another important form of medical evidence that might help make determinations about what is happening to the person who is suffering an unfortunate medical complication. Essentially, there are a variety of areas of potential evidence. As a result, it is critical that a potential victim of malpractice retain a legal representative who knows what they are doing with respect to obtaining the necessary evidence and also having that evidence reviewed for medical negligence or errors.
Seeking Legal Help with Collecting Evidence in a St. Petersburg Medical Malpractice Claim
After a hardworking attorney obtains the medical evidence needed to properly investigate and initiate a claim, the next step is to engage medical consultants to review the records and medical diagnostic imaging or lab work. Once an attorney and the consultants evaluate all the evidence, a decision can be made as to what medical errors took place and what injuries were, therefore, caused by those errors. After the record and imaging review takes place, typically depositions of the participating healthcare providers are taken, which can help fill in some of the factual gaps that are not answered solely from the medical records and imaging.
The depositions of the defendant healthcare providers are typically admissible in court or trial proceedings. During a malpractice case, the evidence presented in court will typically include the relevant medical records, which are presented to the court. Furthermore, the admissible deposition testimony from the participating healthcare providers and expert opinions from a top specialist in the area of medicine at issue in the case will also be included.
Cases that have the appropriate medical record foundation are reviewed by a top specialist in those areas of medicine. Often, when those specialists agree that malpractice occurred, a case tends to have a favorable outcome in resolving either before or after a trial. As a result, having an attorney who can help an injured individual collect evidence for a St. Petersburg medical malpractice case could be crucial. To learn more, call today.