Juliet Young, Director of MCC Ltd (solicitor, non practising): CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE ON THE RISE – don’t let medical records slow you down
Negligence claims against the NHS increased by 20% last year and this concerning trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
In every clinical negligence claim you have worried and distressed clients and their families all seeking answers and remedies. As a former personal injury solicitor, I am well aware that dealing with these claims is time and labour intensive - particularly when faced with the voluminous and complex medical records sent through to you by the NHS Trusts and GPs.
After having worked for both high street and national law firms (including six years spent at Thompsons Solicitors – specialising in industrial disease) I was looking for a career change. I wanted to still use my legal knowledge but also carve my own career path. To this end, I co-founded Medical Collation and Chronology Limited; a new medico-legal service provider to the clinical negligence sector. Together with an industry professional and an NHS nurse with over 20 years’ clinical experience, we have devised innovative and helpful documentation to streamline clinical negligence caseloads.
All of us have had experience of working with other service providers on many cases, ranging from complex obstetrics and paediatric claims to general orthopaedic matters as well as more unusual areas such as endocrinology.
We came together to iron out the cracks that we had all identified in the service of collating and analysing medical records. It is paramount that the medical records are sifted page by page to ensure that nothing of relevance is missing. The indexing of medical records allows no room for laziness as salient information has to be identified and made accessible to reduce the time spent by solicitors and/or experts.
We are here to help make sense of medical records which are frequently disorganised and occasionally illegible or even incomplete. Whilst the records usually range from 600 to 2,000 pages, we have seen cases where a client’s records extend to over 6,000 pages.
Medical records arrive on solicitors' office floors in boxes, bags or bundles; poorly copied and chaotic. MCC Ltd will make sense of them and will return them to you neatly collated and paginated into files, together with a detailed index so that you can find what you need immediately. In May of this year we reviewed over 50,000 pages of medical records – all of which were sent to us from large nationwide clinical negligence and personal injury practices as well as niche law firms.
In light of the amended pre-action protocol in clinical negligence claims, and in particular the addition of the Letter of Notification – being able to point out to the Defendant missing records will hopefully concentrate their investigations and prevent further delays down the line. This is particularly important where medical evidence from an expert will be delayed without receipt of these records, which in turn would delay the Letter of Claim being produced.
Establishing a medico-legal firm has been a challenge. Getting our foot in the door has been the hardest part, but once we have had the opportunity to showcase our work, we have seen great results. We take the time to understand our business and the audience we deliver to so we are better equipped to implement ideas that promote our growth and streamline the collation and analysis of medical records.