PI Lawyer's Take on Interviewing Patients/Families Post-Event
PI Lawyer's Take on Interviewing Patients/Families Post-Event Over the last couple months we have hammered home the importance of interviewing patients & families post-event as part of your review process during disclosure. We have stressed the simple act of getting their side of the story can be – at the minimum – very empathetic, but you can also learn a lot in some instances. You may learn things about the care your staff didn’t know or neglected to tell you. Indeed, interviewing the patient/family makes your review process credible & believable, especially if the review shows there was no error, no malpractice, etc. Just do it!
When I spoke at a hospital two weeks ago in NYC, I talked to the staff about learning what is in the “little black book” kept by patients and families. I said either you find out during your review process, or a PI lawyer will learn the contents of the black book. On this critical point, see the following words from a blog posting by a seasoned PI med-mal lawyer:
"We cannot predict how or when something wrong happens. And your attorney is only aware that there is a problem after the consequences of some action or inaction has transpired. That's why we rely heavily on the details from the patient's narrative of what happened."
Buncher urges that patients be proactive and record details about conversations and decisions reached with their doctors. Be specific and take special care to document any instructions regarding treatments or other activities that deal specifically with your healthcare. "Ask questions, record answers and be attentive," he comments. "Doctors take very specific notes. They record every detail about your conversation. Patients should be at least as attentive."
He also advises that patients take videos and photos of their progress, especially when dealing with long term care situations. In his blog, he notes that most of the time, there are no clear cut cases of failure; no red flags, bells and whistles going off anywhere.
"While most of us would like to think there is a group of doctor's looking after us trying to diagnose our mysterious conditions like on the television series House, the truth is that patients are frequently passed through the managed care medical system like a number (your social security number to be exact) with no name and little accountability," Buncher comments. As a patient is passed between doctors and hospitals, there is greater chance that continuity in treatment is broken. "Sometimes, the left hand has no idea what the right hand is doing."
You have to make interviewing the patient-family post-event part of your review process! For more help on developing your disclosure program, call 618-559-8168 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doug Wojcieszak, Founder, Sorry Works!