November 7, 2017
Deciding on whether or not to pursue a potential medical-legal matter can be challenging and expensive if you do not have the right plan in place. Here are a few tips to make your decision easier, cost-effective, and successful.
Organize Your Records
Placing your records in chronological order is especially important when dealing with cases with voluminous documentation. Your client’s case should read like a story, with a well-ordered sequence of events. Once organized properly, both you and the expert witness can get a better understanding of the case, and make sure that all necessary records have been received. Your expert will spend less time organizing and searching for records, which also delays your review, and will help minimize your costs.
Use Tab Separators
The use of tabs to separate records will make the expert’s job easier in locating specific records. You might think you are saving the environment by sending the records electronically, but a hard copy of the records is easier for most experts to review. Do not send the expert two-sided pages of records. Check the preference of the expert. This will save the expert time and you money.
Get A Chronology If You Have Voluminous Records
You will get a better understanding of the case, and you can request that the expert first review the chronology, and give you there thoughts, before going through the voluminous set of records and charging you accordingly.
Imaging Is Important
Obtain all pertinent radiological studies, not just reports. Photocopies of films are not always sufficient. The expert would prefer to see a copy of the actual study. Films are acceptable on disc.
Have A General Understanding Of The Case
Provide a brief summary of events with specific questions. If you are concerned that any written or emailed information between you and the expert will be discoverable, make sure you set up a time to speak with the expert, before the review process.
Set Time Limits
Be clear on how much time you want the expert to spend. For example, you can request that the expert keep their analysis within the retainer time frame and call you to discuss initial thoughts before proceeding. The expert may not have found any evidence that the case is worth pursuing during the retainer time frame, but if they were unable to get through all the records, you do not want the expert to continue without a specific purpose.
Written Or Verbal Report?
When The Expert Calls:
Have a list of questions, or concerns, prepared. Remember that there is no such thing as a dumb question.
Take notes of your conversation or, if possible, tape your discussion.
Contact the expert with an immediate email if you need clarification or to confirm the opinion received. This is best accomplished when the case is still fresh in the expert’s mind.
Ask the expert if the care of any other physicians involved in the treatment should be investigated and if so, why.
Organize the Certificate of Merit or Affidavit of Merit for the expert, as soon as possible, following your discussion. This will prevent the need for the expert to conduct another thorough review of the records before signing the document, which controls cost.
Realizing that Experts are your biggest asset, and expenditure, you need to be in control of this relationship, as much as possible, so preparation is the key. Therefore, utilizing Experts that have a good understanding of the steps and commitment required to help with the successful resolution of a malpractice case, along with your guidance, are necessary when deciding to take a case or not.