Protect against medical malpractice with a hospital journal
Preserve information about the health care that was provided
Any time you or someone you care about is admitted to a hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility or rehabilitation center, I encourage you to keep a hospital journal.
As a medical malpractice lawyer who has represented patients and families in Houston, all over Texas and various states, I have seen time and time again how valuable this information can be.
In most medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations is two years. That means a patient or family could wait for many months or even more than a year before speaking to a qualified medical malpractice attorney.
What happens during that time period? The patient and family are dealing with pain and suffering, mental anguish, coping and grief. And, quite often, a lot of the detailed memories about what happened in the hospital or facility are forgotten.
Some of these forgotten details can be important to a medical malpractice case.
Here are some things that I recommend recording in your hospital journal: (1) the date, time and reason for the admission; (2) names of the doctors involved in the care, what their roles were and a summary of any conversations with them, with date and time; (3) names of the nurses involved in the care and a summary of any conversations with them, with date and time; (4) details of any change in the patient’s condition; and (5) if the patient or family made any complaints or requests to the doctors or nurses, a summary of who was involved in the conversation, what was said and date and time.
Hospitals and facilities have to maintain their own medical records. When they are sued for medical malpractice they point to the medical records as having the best information about what actually happened in the health care involved. But in practically every case that I have handled, there has been key information missing from the medical record—either the information was not documented or key pages are just missing.
When a patient or family has a hospital journal, it can provide the rest of the story. Without a medical journal, those details—which may be crucial to a medical malpractice case—may be forgotten and lost forever.
We always hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. That certainly applies to hospital admissions. And if there is no problem with the care provided, the effort of keeping a hospital journal still is not wasted. According to an article in the November/December 2013 issue of “Scientific American Mind,” expressive writing during a hospitalization can help patients heal faster.
If you or someone you care about has been injured or has died from medical malpractice in a hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility or rehabilitation center, call the medical malpractice lawyers at Painter Law Firm for a free consultation at 281-580-8800.
Robert Painter is a medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm PLLC.
A physician has to supervise the care and prescriptions of nurse practitioners and physician assistants under written, signed agreements [...]read more
On 4/1/2018, the new law will end the current practice where doctors can secretly enter a DNR order against patient and family wishes [...]read more
A physician has to supervise the care and prescriptions of nurse practitioners and physician assistants under written, signed agreements
On 4/1/2018, the new law will end the current practice where doctors can secretly enter a DNR order against patient and family wishes
This article was originally published in the September/October 2017 edition of "The Houston Lawyer" magazine
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