Product Liability Cases and the Importance of Medical Records

 

Product Liability Cases and the Importance of Medical Records

Whenever a company is thought to be at fault in a product liability case, a patient’s medical records will play a critical role in the lawsuit’s outcome.  The defendants want to see a person’s entire medical file, even records from years before the surgery in question will be reviewed in some cases.

Patients Sometimes See the Process as Being Intrusive

For the patient involved in a product liability case, this can feel exhausting and intrusive.  After all, even their mental health records are on display if the defendant requests to review them.  This gives them the grounds for their defense by finding out what type of person the plaintiff is.  It could very well reveal things about a man or woman’s history that they’d prefer to keep private.

Preparing to “Produce” the Documents to the Defense Team

A patient will be asked to turn over medical records in a product liability case to their attorney.  The legal professional will then organize the items and “produce” them to the defendant.  This gives them a chance to reach out to legal medical professionals prior to giving the medical documents to the defense if they have questions and need clarification.

Allegations That Come Up in Product Liability Lawsuits

Product liability lawsuits claim one or more of the following negligent actions:

  • Defective Design. This allegation states that the product is unreasonably dangerous and therefore, threatens the safety of the person using it.
  • Defective Manufacturing. Due to a manufacturing error, the product is too dangerous to use.
  • Failing to Warn of Potential Danger. There are no verbal or written warnings from the manufacturer about the potentially dangerous use of the item.
  • Misrepresentation through Marketing. The companies selling the product misrepresent how the item is used and do not give instruction or warnings against improper use.

Medical records alert the defense to any conditions that existed prior to using a medical device or product.  They also allude to any mental health issues that could contribute to the allegations.  The defense’s job is to dig deep into medical records in order to protect its clients.  That’s why clear, detailed documentation is essential to a product liability case’s outcome.  Without this information, it’s hard to prove there was no fault on behalf of the designer, manufacturer or seller of the product or device being criticized by the plaintiff.

Medical Records That May Be Used in a Product Liability Case

Some of the medical records that are requested during product liability cases include:

  • Admission Information
  • Discharge Summaries
  • Admission History and Physicals
  • Physician Progress Notes
  • Emergency Room Records
  • Physician Orders
  • Operating Room Records and Reports
  • Lab Reports
  • Medication Reports

This information is among many other documents made available through court order or patient consent.  If the person being represented in a case is deceased, his or her family, appointed representative or surviving spouse can request that physician-patient privilege be waived in order to proceed with a lawsuit.

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