Archive for January, 2009

If Any Medical Expert Will Do, You Are In The Wrong Place!

January 28, 2009

Medical Opinions Associates does not look for just any medical expert who is willing to review cases and write opinion letters. This simply does not add sufficient value. The advantage of having been around for thirty years, provided you have used your time wisely,  is that you have drawn conclusions about what attorneys and plaintiffs look for in a medical expert and what will afford the strongest credibility profile for your clients.

All Medical Opinions Associates medical experts are Board-certified in their respective specialties.  Physicians do not have to be Board-certified, or even Board-eligible to practice medicine. Formal recognition of special medical skill and knowledge usually requires a residency of three to six years.  When the residency is successfully completed, the physician becomes Board-eligible, meaning that he may now sit for the oral and written examinations for certification. Some physicians who become Board-eligible never become Board-certified. This is either because they are unable to pass the certification examinations or choose for whatever reason not to seek certification.

Medical Opinions Associates requires Board-certification of all medical reviewers.  Why?  Think about it.  It is always reassuring to know that your medical expert has been credentialed by the national organization in charge of setting the requirements for medical practice in that specialty. The courts often have more comfort with such a medical expert

Medical Opinions Associates also insists that all medical experts be in active clinical practice in their specialty.  Our clients expect that when they proceed with litigation against someone who has performed/not performed a medical procedure, they will have a medical expert on their side who has actually performed that procedure and can comment authoritatively on the appropriate standards of care for that procedure.

The other factors Medical Opinions Associates considers are less obvious, but important. We look for strong academic affiliations and we look for articulate presentation, both orally and in writing.  Now here is where we get somewhat controversial.  At the risk of being accused of snobbery, we do look for medical experts who are the products of prestigious undergraduate and medical schools. We do this because experience has taught us that it appeals to attorneys and individuals who need medical experts. THEY feel it gives them additional clout, and since they know the courts better than we do, who are we to argue?  Does that mean that only prestigious medical schools can produce high quality medical experts? Of course not.  For Medical Opinions Associates, It simply means that knowing what we know, when two Neurosurgeons, for example, send us their Curriculum Vitae and we only need one additional expert in that specialty at the time, we might consider where they attended medical school as a factor in our decision-making.

So sue us!!

 

 

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Pulmonology Medical Review

January 15, 2009

ABC plaintiff v. XYZ College

IN A NUTSHELL:

The Boston attorney represented the defendant college in an employee termination dispute in which the employee, having been terminated due to excessive absenteeism, brings an action against the school in essence claiming that she and her children suffered from serious chronic health conditions and should have been granted leave to care for her children under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

MEDICAL OPINION

The reviewing medical expert in Pulmonology concluded that there was no evidence of a serious chronic health condition for either the employee or her children. 

There were repeated absences from her work for reasons stated as depression, stress, and asthmatic bronchitis.  There were medical visits in which she reported episodes of cough and sinus congestion. However, there was nothing in the medical record to suggest a diagnosis of a more serious lung condition, nor was there evidence of any hospitalizations for such conditions.  The medical expert noted her on-going smoking habit which continued during this time despite the urging of medical providers to stop.  The only other objective evidence in the medical record were chest radiographs, all of which were read as normal. 

Both children had also been seen by their pediatrician and although both had evidenced some respiratory problems, there was nothing beyond routine acute viral illnesses.  That is, there was no objective evidence of a serious chronic health condition.

The case was settled prior to trial.

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Author’s note: This is the first in a series of actual cases that will be presented on this blog for the information of interested readers. Obviously, we will mask identifying information for reasons of privacy.  Also, readers should know that most of our cases involve providing medical opinions requested by plaintiff or plaintiff’s counsel. The medical expert here is rendering an opinion at the request of defendant’s counsel.

Why Complete Medical Record?

January 8, 2009

Why do we ask for the complete medical record?

1.      Your case will rise or fall based on the medical records you submit. Why take the chance that an omission may result in the medical expert concluding that no medical negligence has occurred?  

2.      Even if medical negligence is still indicated, if you send an incomplete medical record, you run the risk that the medical expert will conclude that the case is weaker than it really is.

3.      Our medical experts have demanding clinical obligations and although this makes them most desirable as expert witnesses, they cannot be expected to re-review the original file each time supplemental records are submitted.

4.      We charge a reasonable flat fee thereby assuming the risk should more time than estimated be required by the medical expert to reach a conclusion and write an opinion letter.  We do everything possible to avoid asking for additional funds to complete the work. 

It is the responsibility of counsel for the plaintiff or defendant to be sure that they have obtained and submitted all medical records that bear on an evaluation of the care rendered the patient.  Hospital records usually consist of the following: emergency room records or admission chart, operative reports, progress notes, nurse’s notes, physicians’ orders, consultants’ reports, social workers’ notes, lab reports, x-rays and other films, and discharge summary or autopsy report.  Physicians’ office records usually consist of physical examination records, lab reports, consultation notes, and prescriptions.

Welcome Message

January 7, 2009

Welcome to the Medical Opinions Associates blog.  We provide medical expert witness services world-wide to attorneys, insurers, and pro se individuals in medical malpractice and personal injury cases.  We’ll keep you posted about important happenings in the world of medical expert review services.  You can find more information at our company website.