One of the most frustrating things for patients and family members who’ve been harmed by medical malpractice is to read medical records that have big gaps or blatantly false information. We often get the question of, “What can we do to prove our case?”
To start, in any Texas medical malpractice case, the law requires the plaintiff to have the support of one or more medical experts. Medical experts have to define in writing the applicable standard care, how the doctor, nurse, or hospital violated the standard care, and how that conduct caused harm.
Medical, nursing, and healthcare experts typically rely on what’s documented in the medical records. On those occasions, though, where information is missing from the medical records or they contain misstatements, there are some other options to proving a case. We commonly use two sources of evidence that immediately come to mind.
First, records of phone calls, emails, and text messages can establish an accurate timeline of patient communications to a physician office that are documented in the medical records. While expert witnesses and jurors often put a lot of faith in the medical records, when another record highlights missing information, they justifiably view the medical records with more scrutiny.
Right now, I’m working on a plastic surgery malpractice case where the doctor’s records are completely silent about multiple communications from the patient about post-operative complications. Fortunately, the patient had cell phone records, text messaging screenshots, and emails to corroborate his recollection of the events. We retained a plastic surgery expert who relied on this additional information in preparing a report about the case.
Second, Texas law allows medical experts to rely on information provided to them directly by patients or family members involved in their care. The rationale is that doctors routinely do this in direct patient care when they perform a history and physical exam. Why, then, should be prohibited in the legal context.
We’re working on a case now involving Texas Children’s Hospital where the medical record is strangely silent about the most important time span to the case. There are no nursing notes or respiratory therapist notes to reflect why it took at least 40 minutes to re-intubate a little boy who was gasping for air. The parents, who were at their son’s bedside when everything happened, shared the recollection of the events with a medical expert, who relied on that information in preparing a report.
If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor medical or hospital care, then remember that experience and creativity matter when it comes to pursuing a Texas medical malpractice case. Contact a top-rated skilled Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer for help in evaluating your potential case.