While filing a complaint might seem like a routine effort, there are important considerations that can be made during the initial fact-finding process. Implementing these simple steps can add unexpected value in the beginning of, or throughout, litigation.
Research the individuals, organizations and relationships: This step may seem obvious, but although it is common to name physician(s) and the hospital in a medical malpractice case, sometimes the physician group is overlooked when filing the complaint. Oftentimes, physicians are not employed by the hospital and may be part of a private group practice. Further, these groups could be owned by larger entities or holding companies which could be located in a different state. This basic research helps in naming the appropriate defendants.
Look at Billing: Billing is usually considered when evaluating economic damages but has other important applications. All services that have been billed must be supported by clinical documentation, meaning that billing can be a great place to start when identifying the events of a medical malpractice case. Additionally, billing validates the professional and hospital components of the case (e.g. the physicians and places in which care was provided). This information can help clarify which defendants should be named.
Consider unnamed parties: While it may be decided early in the case that some of the involved parties will not be named, do not discount their value in providing discovery. For instance, it may have been decided that a primary care provider is not responsible for any negligence but still received medical records or communications from a named specialized physician. The standard medical record could be requested from the primary care provider, but these standard releases may not contain the discovery of interest. Depending on state laws, the primary care provider could be subpoenaed to provide all records and communications received from the specialized physician. These documents may not otherwise be provided through the named parties in the case, and may contain discovery that would not otherwise be obtained.
To learn more about applying discovery strategies to healthcare cases, visit emrdiscovery.com.