How a lack of records can lead to medical negligence lawsuits


Medical records provide extensive documentation of a single patient’s medical history and care across a period of time, while under a particular health care provider’s jurisdiction. They can include various notes entered over time, recording observations, drug administrations, surgeries, test results and more. Health care providers are required to maintain complete and accurate medical records to prevent possible complications in the future. These records travel with you across your lifetime, and will be transferred between different health care providers when you register with them. They are also necessary when you go to hospital so that doctors do not prescribe something that you may be allergic to, or could interfere with other medication, in case you are not in a fit state to tell them about this.

What happens if they’re lost?

A lack of medical records can be catastrophic, and have severe consequences. In a life-threatening situation, it is imperative that doctors act with complete prior knowledge of your medical history. Medical records could save your life, so they must obviously be well-maintained, updated and kept safe. In an emergency situation, doctors may have to act fast, and medical records can quickly let them see any important medical conditions or past treatments. If they do not know about underlying conditions or other drug administrations, a doctor could carry out surgery or give you a drug that could potentially cause death or long-lasting damage.

If this does happen, the loss of records could be to blame for the incident of medical negligence, as health care providers have a duty of care to the patient, and that care involves maintaining a complete account of your medical health.

Records can also sometimes not be transferred properly, for example, if you move house. This can prove especially damaging with long-term illnesses, as it may be difficult to explain to a new GP without your medical records. There has been a lot of media coverage about the loss of NHS patients’ records, with the Daily Mail reporting that 2000 NHS patients’ records are lost every day.

Poorly written records

Sometimes in the busy corridors of a hospital, even the most conscientious doctors and nurses can get distracted and forget to fill in notes and records properly, which can cause issues in the long run. Not filling out these records and notes can cause treatments to be potentially forgotten about, meaning that in future, when the records may be needed before another operation or prescription, your full medical history is not available.

Medical negligence lawsuits

Medical negligence is often defined as a failure to exercise the correct amount of care in a certain circumstance, which leads to harm caused by carelessness, rather than malice. This does not make negligence any less important than malpractice, however, and should still be taken seriously. If you are injured by a result of medical negligence or are next of kin to someone who has died due to negligent medical treatment or does not have the capacity, you can take legal action for compensation.

These lawsuits are incredibly important, as they can highlight the impact that negligence can have upon someone, and demonstrate its severity. If you do decide that you want to open a medical negligence case, Ronald Fletcher & Co. are a specialist niche firm, dealing specifically with professional negligence lawsuits. We promise a personalised service to individuals and families, explaining legal issues in a simple way that is easy for our clients to understand. You can read more about our specialised medical negligence claims solicitor on our website here, and contact us for more advice.