If after speaking with you I conclude that you have a potentially viable malpractice case, the next step is to set up an initial client meeting. There are four things I want to accomplish during our initial meeting: (1) I want to introduce you to the members of the legal team you will be working with, (2) I want to explain and have you sign a retainer agreement (click here for an article that explains your financial obligations under that agreement), (3) I want to have you sign medical authorizations so I can secure the pertinent records for our investigation, and (4) I want to provide you with an overview of how my office investigates and prosecutes medical malpractice cases.
To prepare medical authorizations, a retainer agreement and guide us in our initial investigation we ask clients to provide the following information before we meet:
- Name, address, date of birth and social security number.
- The name and address (town is sufficient if you do not know the street address) of all physicians involved in the medical malpractice and the name of the hospital or health care facility where the malpractice occurred.
- The name and address of all other physicians, hospitals and/or facilities you visited before the medical malpractice occurred to the extent that such treatment was for the same condition or related to the condition that was being treated when the medical malpractice occurred. For example, if you were damaged during a stent procedure, you would also provide the name of the cardiologist who diagnosed you with a blockage and referred you to the interventional radiologist for the stent procedure.
- The name and address of all other physicians, hospitals and/or facilities you visited after the medical malpractice occurred for medical care to deal with the health problems caused by the malpractice. Again, by way of example, if you were harmed during a stent procedure and you had to see a plastic surgeon after you were released from the hospital to deal with scarring that occurred during the stent mishap, you would also provide the name and address of the plastic surgeon.
- A short and concise chronology of the facts related to the medical malpractice. A sample chronology related to the negligent treatment of a retinal detachment is at the bottom of the page. In general, the more information that you can provide the better. Nevertheless, clients often do not know more than the names of the doctors and facilities and the dates of care because health care providers rarely provide detailed information when medical mistakes occur. If you are scheduling an appointment right after the negligence occurred you are even less likely to have detailed information because subsequent treating doctors have not told you what happened.
- The name and address of your primary care physician.
- A short description (a sentence or two) of all chronic health conditions unrelated to the medical malpractice.
After we receive the above information, we arrange an appointment at a mutually convenient time to meet with you. Initial meetings generally take between 1.5 and 2 hours to complete.
Sample Chronology from a client with a negligently treated retinal detachment
- On Thursday, October 1, 2015, I saw floaters in my field of vision and I visited my Ophthalmologist, Dr. Jones. He examined me and indicated I was suffering from vitreous detachment which was a normal part of the aging process. He scheduled a return appointment for the following week.
- On Friday, October 2, 2015 a dark curtain was coming down over my eye so I called Dr. Jones and he asked me to come into the office. He advised that I was suffering from a retinal detachment, and he referred me to Dr. Smith, a retinal surgeon.
- I saw Dr. Smith later in the day on Friday October 2, 2015, and he scheduled surgery for Saturday October 3, 2015 at Memorial Hospital.
- On October 3, 2013 Dr. Smith performed surgery at Memorial Hospital which included a vitrectomy and insertion of a scleral buckle.
- On Thursday, October 8, 2015 I returned to Dr. Smith and my vision was very blurry. He indicated it would clear over time.
- On Friday, October 16, 2015, I could no longer see anything but shadows and shapes. Dr. Smith referred me to Dr. Brown, a neuroophthalmologist who I have been seeing weekly since. Dr. Brown has me going to a low vision therapist, Dr. White.