Techniques of Medical Litigation: A Professional's Handbook for Plaintiffs, Defendants, and Medical Consultants

Article excerpt

Techniques of Medical Litigation: A Professional's Handbook for Plaintiffs, Defendants, and Medical Consultants, by Randine A. Lewis (Quorum Books, 1997).

In an excellent and concise presentation, this book familiarizes the reader with the steps necessary to commence a medical lawsuit. The stated intention of this book is to make medical case handling less intimidating. The reader will learn how to interpret medical records, as well as the mechanics of medical lawsuits. Chapter 14, "Introduction to Medicine," and chapters 11, 12 and 13, on lawsuits, are the most valuable reference tools in this book.

Chapter 1, "Introduction to Medical Litigation," is a rather basic introduction. Legal lingo such as "plaintiff," "defendant," and "statute of limitations" are briefly defined. This chapter breaks down the types of medical claims as (1) medical malpractice, (2) personal injury, (3) wrongful death, (4) products liability, (5) chemical exposure and (6) worker's compensation.

Chapter 2, "Obtaining Medical Records," focuses on securing an individual's past medical history in order to contrast and separate preexisting conditions. Chapter 3, "Contents of Medical Records," walks the reader through hospital emergency room records, discharge summaries, physical exams, and progress notes. Particularly helpful are the example forms provided in this chapter. Chapter 4, "Medical Research," facilitates the understanding of medical aspects by referencing books, such as the Physician's Desk Reference and other medical texts. It also lists the International Classification of Diseases and their corresponding codes as well as definitions of the most commonly used medical specialties.

Chapter 5, "Medical Experts and Consultants," provides guidelines to evaluate experts and includes a listing of telephone numbers of the American Board of Medical Specialists for reference. Chapter 6, "Medical Malpractice," lists the areas involved in medical malpractice, such as missed diagnoses, misdiagnoses, procedural mishaps, and informed consent failures. Chapter 7, "Cancer Malpractice," is basically a Cancer 101 chapter - all you need to know about cancer but were afraid to ask. Definitions, treatments and drug options are addressed. Chapter 8, "Products' Liability, Chemical Exposure, and Toxic Torts," makes it clear that these types of cases need the expertise found in standards set forth by federal agencies. Chapter 9, "Worker's Compensation Claims," guides the reader through the process of filing, monitoring, paying benefits, and returning the injured to gainful employment. Impairment and aggravation are well defined. Chapter 10, "Personal Injury Claims," is dedicated to the handling of damages (both medical payments and wages loss) as well as how to consider future damages in final settlement amounts. Life care plans are briefly discussed.

In rather simple terminology, Chapter 11, "Initiating a Lawsuit," steps the reader through the litigation process, which begins by filing a lawsuit. …