Often, medical records are not requested for some time after the occurrence. The problem is that the patient's memory is often not as good a year or more after the events, so disputing the record will be more difficult at that time. Sometimes, these records are altered or "lost," over time, and delay can only increase that likelihood.
Even when an attorney gets involved, hospitals will inevitably delay presenting the records for as long as they can, to make sure that the health care providers "approve" of their release to the lawyers.
This is a very important first step in evaluating a potential medical negligence case, as without the records, expert witnesses cannot even form opinions about what was done in the case.
Record Conversations with Doctors
In Texas, and some other jurisdictions, it is legal for one party to a conversation to tape-record the conversation. Often, though a physician will inform a patient that another physician made a mistake and caused harm, once a lawsuit is filed, many physicians will not come forward with that truth. Sometimes this has to do with pressure from the insurance industry who is responsible for paying the damages caused by the other physician (and who will frequently insure both doctors). Sometimes it is simply a "wall of silence" created to protect doctors from liability for their own actions. The "frivolous lawsuit" is almost never brought, as credible expert testimony is required to even get through the courthouse doors.
Get to a Lawyer Quickly
In Texas, as well as several other jurisdictions, there are very detailed legal hurdles that must be overcome in order to bring a lawsuit against a doctor or hospital. This is due in large part to the so-called "tort-reform" movement pushed on us all by the insurance industry and business concerns. In order to survive a "technicality" filed by defense lawyers for these companies, you will want to hire an attorney who routinely practices in medical malpractice in your state.
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