Personal Injury Lawyer
As a medical malpractice lawyer I frequently investigate medical errors that occur in the hospital setting. In addition to the medical records, there are a number of other sources of information that can provide proof useful in the course of proving facts necessary to support the elements of a claim for medical negligence. Hospitals are like mega-corporations that are constantly monitoring the activities of employees. The patients’ activities are also recorded, in the medical record. However, just as importantly, the employees’ activities must be looked into.
Like a large corporation, hospitals monitor their employees’ productivity. Hospital employees include nurses, LPNs, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, nutritionists, occupational therapists, radiology technicians, lab technicians and, in some instances, physicians, residents and fellows. Many hospitals use tracking devices to monitor the whereabouts of these employees, especially RNs, during the course of their shift. A medical malpractice lawsuit can be won or lost based on a doctor or nurse claiming to be in one place when he or she was in another.
Audit trails are another source of information. Every time an employee enters information in a patient’s electronic medical record, a log entry is created indicating the identity of the person making the entry and the time and date of the entry. Additional meta data shows what was entered and whether it was subsequently edited. The audit trail can be important to show whether portions of the medical record were altered or deleted.
Hospitals also monitor equipment locations through software programs. In this way, medical devices like crash carts and ultrasounds can be located when they are moved throughout the hospital.
In addition, hospitals utilize videotape surveillance throughout the hospital facility and on hospital grounds for security purposes. I once prevailed in a case involving an in-hospital suicide when surveillance videotape showed the decedent, who was under suicide watch, walk out of his hospital room while the guard was distracted. The man was later found hanged in a hospital restroom.
Video surveillance might also be used without the patient’s knowledge. For example, an obstetrics nurse once confided in me that her mid-sized Ohio hospital was surreptitiously recording all labor and delivery. The patients were not told about the surveillance, which constitutes a violation of their privacy and dignity. Further, the presence of the videotaped evidence was not noted in the patient’s chart. Therefore, if a negligent delivery resulted in a birth injury, i.e. brain damage to the baby due to delays in treatment and failure to undergo an emergency C-section, the videotaped evidence could be used if it was exculpatory, but would not be made known if it showed negligent acts leading to harm.
A careful medical malpractice lawyer will make use of all available information in the course of his or her investigation into hospital negligence. Some important information may be found outside the medical record.If you have questions about a case contact a medical malpractice lawyer, like the attorneys at Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co., L.P.A., to have your questions answered and see if you have a case.