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Hospital Medical Records
Hospital Medical Records And Medical Negligence

Access To Hospital Medical Records

Why are your medical records so important in a medical negligence claim and how do you obtain access to them?

If you are considering making a claim for medical negligence compensation one of the first things a specialist solicitor will want to do is to obtain copies of your medical records. Why are these so important to your medical negligence solicitor? This article explores the role of your medical notes and their importance to a potential claim.

What Are Your Medical Records?

Your medical records are full details of all of the treatment that you receive whilst you are in hospital, at the dentist or with your General Practitioner. They can include the following documents:-

  • Hand written notes and reports on your condition
  • Letters to your Doctor, Dentist etc.
  • X-rays and other examination evidence
  • Reports on X-rays, scans etc.

How Can You Obtain Your Medical Records?

You are entitled to full copies of your medical records under the Access to Health Records Act 1990. You can request a copy of your records yourself but usually your solicitor will do this for you. They will ask you to sign a form of consent to obtain the release of your medical records. This will then be sent to the hospital that provided your treatment.

Original Or Copy Records?

Ideally the original records and treatment notes will be obtained to ensure that the photocopying does not miss any vital handwritten notes. However generally photocopies are obtained and only if the notes are illegible or it appears some are missing will the originals be inspected at the hospital.

Review Of The Medical Records

Once your solicitor is in receipt of the medical records they will initially review them and see if anything stands out as unusual. However if the treatment is in a specialist area or the medical records are particularly difficult to decipher, they may instruct a specialist nursing consultant to review the records for them and point out any areas that are of special interest. Often in this review process a nurse might find other issues that could amount to negligence on the part of the Consultant treating you. This is why a thorough review of the original records is absolutely vital.

The solicitor may also ask you to review the medical records and comment on any particular points which stand out.

Summary

Once your solicitor has obtained the medical records and reviewed them fully and discussed them with you, they will be able to provide you with a much stronger opinion on the prospects of success of your medical negligence claim. If the records reveal areas of concern and potential negligence, the next step will be to instruct a specialist medical consultant to review the medical records and provide a detailed report including their opinion on whether they believe medical negligence has occurred during the course of your treatment.

If the report findings are positive you can then usually proceed with a claim for compensation for medical negligence.

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