There are several critical questions a firm should consider prior to engaging a healthcare litigation consultant:
1) What are the key issues? This question is extremely important. For example, are medical records missing or are there holes in the timeline of patient care? Whatever the key issues are, identifying them before coming to a healthcare litigation consultant will help guide you to getting the information you need.
2) Who are the key individuals? Is it just one clinician or are there multiple people involved in the care that you find integral to the case? Knowing your key individuals allows the healthcare litigation consultants to focus their attention to those specific individuals’ activity in your client’s medical record.
3) Which organizations or partnerships are involved? For example, are the clinicians employed directly by the medical facility, independently employed, or part of a partnership? The answer to this question is important, as it may identify different systems being used or the policies and procedures that should have been followed.
4) What are the dates of interest? Important dates include dates outside of your client’s medical care, like when the case was filed or when the record was produced. These dates are often relevant when you suspect changes have been made to the record.
5) Which healthcare information systems were involved? This will help you specify the systems that you should request information from. It can be difficult determining every system involved in your client’s care and interrogatories requesting the defense to identify each relevant system is a great way to get this information. If the defense is unable to provide an answer, healthcare litigation consultants can help.
6) What focus areas require a healthcare litigation consultant’s expertise? For instance, do you need discovery language, or do you need assistance validating and mapping the timeline of your client’s care? Again, this allows both you and the healthcare litigation consultant to focus on specific information.
7) Will an onsite inspection be needed? This may be required for a number of reasons, including when the integrity and authenticity of the record is in question, or when further inspection of the EHR systems are required. For more information about on-site inspections, see our previous blog, On-Site Inspection Precedent.
8) Was a risk assessment conducted? Although peer review in many states is often subject to privilege, there may be information that can be drawn from this, including the date of the risk assessment.
9) Which experts are already engaged? Having other experts retained, such as clinical experts, may provide insight for the healthcare litigation consultant to better understand your focus and may shorten the time it takes for document review.
10) Has the valuation and budget been determined? Knowing your budget, especially in cases with damages caps, will allow the healthcare litigation consultant to determine the best strategy to help your firm while considering the potential monetary constraints.
For more information about whether you might need a healthcare litigation consultant, visit EMR Discovery’s new website, which includes considerations and eDiscovery checklists, common case types, and services.