Know Your Case (Part 2) – What Should a Lawyer do with Medical Records?

In our previous article, we discussed the importance of obtaining all of the medical records from your client’s treating providers for their personal injury claim and completing a comprehensive chronological medical summary. The foundation of any personal injury case is understanding the extent of your client’s injuries, the impact upon your client’s life, and possible permanent impairments to achieve the best possible outcome for your client.

So when do you start to collect the necessary medical information on your client’s injury? Start collecting as soon as possible. If you signed up your client soon after their injuries occurred, request all ambulance, hospital, and initial provider records immediately. Continue to request records from ongoing treating providers, specialists, and imaging facilities. Starting a chronological medical summary during the treatment phase of a case is the best and most efficient way to monitor your client’s healthcare and progress; however, if it was not possible to obtain the records during treatment, it is absolutely necessary to have a summary of the medical treatment before the demand phase as the information will help determine the direction of the case. Can you settle the case in pre-litigation or will you have to file a lawsuit? All of this information will also be helpful in producing graphics which may help your case at any step along the way.

Brain injury summary axial view

Now ask yourself a question, “Am I qualified to review and comprehend the medical information from all of the records I have obtained?” The answer is no, unless you have a medical background. And even if you have extensive medical knowledge, are you qualified to understand every medical condition you are likely to encounter? You know the law, but let a medical professional review and summarize your client’s injuries for you to better understand and, most importantly, be able to communicate those injuries to the adverse party. Before you can review the comprehensive medical case summary, you must obtain one. There are several ways of producing a medical summary:

  1. A case manager or legal assistant can organize and summarize the medical records.
  2. Hire an outside company that will review and organize all records that have been collected using non-professionals and/or artificial intelligence. 
  3. Hire a medical professional to review and organize the records. Additionally, they can highlight areas of importance and relevance to the case.

Using your own staff may seem like the most cost-effective option; however, paying your staff to organize and summarize medical records will detract from performing necessary job duties that only they can do. A better option will be to hire an outside company and/or medical professional to organize and review your client’s medical records. The complexity and value of the case will determine whether you hire a company to outline the treatment received or hire a medical professional who can also analyze the medical information. In cases that may result in mediation and/or litigation, a medical records review should be performed by a medical professional. 

Medical report graphic

What type of medical professional can and/or should review your client’s records?

  1. Treating physician
  2. Expert physician
    1. May be your treating physician
    2. May be a separate expert physician
  3. Nurse, Nurse Practitioner
  4. Chiropractor
  5. Certified Life Care Planners
  6. Certified Nurse Life Care Planners
  7. Certified Medical Cost Projectionist

Any of the above medical professionals can provide a thorough medical summary, as well as provide an analysis of the appropriateness of care or medical rationale, highlight red flags or areas of concern, and point out significant objective medical evidence. 

In the next installment, I’ll discuss what you do when you get the medical summary and analysis back from one of the above professionals and the expert reports that can be used from the information obtained.

By Dr. Sam Colarusso

Dr. Colarusso began his undergraduate studies at California State University at Fullerton, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. He received his Doctorate of Chiropractic from Southern California University of Health Sciences, graduating with Honors in 1994. Dr. Colarusso returned to his hometown of Las Vegas in 1995 to start his private practice. In addition to providing quality and compassionate health care for over 20 years, Dr. Colarusso serves as Medical Consultant to Focus Graphics, as well as to Claggett & Sykes Law Firm, ensuring every client is receiving the correct and proper treatment for their injuries in order to obtain the best and quickest recovery possible.

Sam Colarusso

Dr. Colarusso has received many additional training and certifications. He was appointed by the State of Nevada as a Designated Rating Physician for the Department of Industrial Relations, performing close to a thousand Independent Medical Examinations and Permanent Partial Disability Evaluations (PPDs) for injured workers. He is also a Certified Medical Examiner for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation. Dr. Colarusso is Board Certified by the American Board of Independent Medical Examiners (ABIME), 1998, Board Certified and Licensed by the Nevada Chiropractic Physicians Board, 1995, and Board Certified by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, 1994.


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