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What Is Medical Negligence and What Can You Do If You Are a Victim?

I am Andrew E. Greenwald, partner at Joseph Greenwald & Laake, and am a former chair of the American Association for Justice Birth Trauma Litigation Group. I have given over 100 lectures to trial lawyers and other groups and have recovered $1 million or more in over 50 cases for victims of medical negligence. I am dedicated to serving victims of medical negligence, and much of my practice is devoted to just that.

People who suffer injuries or death from improper medical treatment can, in many instances, file a lawsuit against a physician, hospital or other provider for medical negligence. Here are some of the basics about medical negligence.

What is medical negligence? Medical negligence occurs when a person is injured or dies as a result of improper medical treatment.

What happens at an initial meeting between a victim of medical negligence and me, an attorney who represents victims? We have a detailed conversation about how the injury occurred and discuss the client’s concerns. I explain what is involved in pursuing a case and provide an initial evaluation. There is no charge for this meeting.        

How is a medical malpractice case investigated? The client signs a HIPAA form so that I can get a complete copy of the relevant medical records. After a detailed review, I consult with medical experts in the area of concern. Findings are shared with the client.

How is a medical malpractice case pursued? What happens next? If the case is meritorious, with my client’s consent, a lawsuit or claim is filed. A life care plan of the client’s future needs is prepared. An economist is engaged to assess lost income and project the cost of the client’s future needs. Witnesses are questioned and the court sets a trial date. The parties may agree to mediate.

What is mediation? An independent mediator meets with all parties to try to resolve the case. Each side has an opportunity to present its case to each other and to the mediator. The parties are separated into different conference rooms, and the mediator discusses the case with each side hoping to reach a settlement.

The following is a checklist to help you gather relevant records, history, and other information that your attorney will need.

    • a chronological list of key events that led to the injury
    • a list of persons who were present or who spoke to any of the health care providers
    • a statement about how and when you first became aware that there may have been inappropriate treatment
    • the names of all doctors and hospitals involved
    • the name of the doctor or doctors’ professional practice(s)
    • your brief medical history
    • a list of all medications prescribed
    • a statement of what you were told by the doctor or the hospital about your treatment
    • a copy of the medical records from the treating doctor and from the hospital (this should include the entire chart, not just a summary)
    • your prenatal records
    • records from other pregnancies and deliveries
    • your labor and delivery records
    • the fetal monitor strip
    • the baby’s newborn records
    • the pediatrician’s records
    • reports of any radiology studies such as MRI or CAT scans
    • all records relating to any testing done on the child
    • a copy of the autopsy report

If you cannot obtain these records, your attorney can obtain them for you.

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