Obtaining medical records from a large urban hospital, such as Tampa General, where a patient’s death or serious complication resulting from medical errors, negligence, or malpractice has occurred can be a daunting process for grieving and distressed loved ones. You might not know where to begin.
Our team at Jim Dodson Law can obtain any needed medical records from Tampa General on your behalf if it appears there is a viable case for wrongful death, negligence, or medical malpractice. Here are some considerations about why you may need assistance in getting the necessary patient medical records.
The Complex Nature of Hospital Medical Records
Doctors at Tampa General and elsewhere have the primary responsibility of overseeing patients’ histories, physical examinations, treatment plans, operation notes, medications, consent forms, referral papers, discharge records, and medical certificates. Records also indicate vital signs, diagnoses, nursing care, laboratory data, pharmacy data, allergies, immunization dates, diagnostic evaluations, and billing processes.
Since patients’ medical records in all hospitals are protected by federal privacy laws known as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), a formal request must be made through a signed consent and authorization for release of his or her medical records before being disclosed to a third party. What is not typically known is the potentially high cost of copies of records.
The Cost of Medical Records
Charges for patient medical records from Tampa General can include a search fee, copy fees, X-ray fees, and microfilm fees. Hospitals typically charge by the page, with fees starting at $1 per page. That means a complete medical record could easily cost $500, $1000, or more to obtain. Creating copies of imaging tests and biopsy slides may cost between $10 to $120 per slide or page of film. Depending on the length of the hospital stay, the patient may have hundreds of pages of documentation.
As your attorney, we know what parts of the chart we need to request and examine. We do not ask our clients to pay up front for pertinent hospital records that we will use to evaluate their case. Once we receive and review the records, if we determine there is no viable lawsuit, we will not ask for reimbursement of those costs. If, however, there is a case and we are successful in pursuing financial recovery on your behalf, the cost of obtaining records—along with other lawsuit costs and attorney fees—are paid from the settlement.
Understanding Medical Records
Medical records can also be confusing to the average lay person whose loved one has just died at Tampa General or has been discharged with painful complications resulting from negligence or malpractice. But a medical malpractice attorney will have reviewed hundreds of charts and will be aware of even a slight medical error, such as giving a drug intravenously instead of orally or by shot—a factor that could be the entire foundation of a wrongful death claim or unfortunate outcome resulting in pain and suffering and disability based on a medication error.
Records Revealing Medication Errors and Unnecessary Infections
Failure to treat a patient effectively for an underlying disease or condition with the proper medication can exacerbate that illness, causing a missed opportunity for the patient to recover normal or optimal function. With a serious bacterial infection—unfortunately all too common these days in large hospitals—failure to detect it and administer the correct medication in a timely manner could result in sepsis or septic shock. Some medications can interact badly with other drugs or even negate the effects of each other. This can result in the overall worsening of a vulnerable patient’s symptoms of pain and suffering. Each administration of medication is mandated to be transmitted—either manually or electronically—on every patient’s medical record.
Records Reflecting Internal Bleeding
Managing post-surgery internal bleeding requires early recognition of this potentially devastating complication. If a surgeon has inadvertently nicked a large vein leading to a high-pressure bleed for example, the results could be fatal within a short period of time. During any postoperative period the surgeon must remain alert for signs of hemorrhage. This, and other complications, can also happen if any member of an operating team inadvertently leaves a foreign object (e.g., an instrument or bandaging) inside a patient.
Getting the Help You Need
Working with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in the event of a wrongful hospital death or serious complication resulting from negligence or medical error means getting the help you need during a painful, stressful period. Trusting reputable legal expertise, guidance, and advice gives vital support and affirms that you’re not alone in a time of crisis.
The team at Jim Dodson Law has decades of experience handling complex medical malpractice cases based on hospital negligence. Just tell us what happened. We know how to obtain the pertinent, comprehensive medical records necessary to build and win viable cases.