Articles Posted in Altered / False Medical Records – Medical Malpractice

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A Maryland man has won an $800,600 verdict in a malpractice case against a California surgeon. The award included $300,000 in punitive damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The patient had a small skull based tumor that was threatening his hearing, and went to a doctor to remove the tumor. According to the lawsuit, the doctor removed something but it was not the tumor. The hospital’s pathology report supposedly showed that what was surgically removed was not a tumor. But instead of telling the patient, the lawsuit alleged that the doctor and/or others altered the report to hide from the patient the fact that the tumor actually was not removed. The patient subsequently lost his hearing and filed suit. A copy of an article on the case can be found here.

As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. attorney who handles many medical malpractice and other catastrophic injury cases, I have successfully handled many cases involving important medical records. Clients of mine frequently ask whether there is any way to tell whether medical records have been improperly altered. I always explain that there are ways, such as comparing them to other records, comparing them to records which have been sent to others, and forensic document examination. At times, I have had medical records evaluated by forensic document examiners who can tell, using ink dating analysis or examination under special lighting, that documents have been altered. Computer systems even keep track of alterations of computerized medical records systems. Usually, when I can prove that a medical record was improperly altered, the case settles. To see some of the cases I have handled, click here.

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A New Jersey doctor’s medical license has just been suspended after regulators determined that he performed the wrong surgery on a patient, by removing the wrong lung, then tried to cover up the error. The New Jersey Board found Dr. Santusht Perera removed a portion of the patient’s right lung when he should have been removing a tumor in the left lung. According to the Board, the surgeon then told the patient that the right lung contained a life-threatening tumor, though there was no such growth. He also altered the patient’s records to show he intended to operate on the right lung. The board determined that Perera’s actions constituted gross negligence. A copy of the article regarding the case can be found here.

While most medical care is good, sadly there are significant number of doctors and hospital staff who commit serious medical malpractice / medical mistakes each day. In the case above, the patient’s healthy lung was removed while the cancerous lung was left unaltered. As if that is not bad enough, the doctor then tried to cover up his mistake. Like in this case, the doctor usually gets caught.

Unfortunately, I have been involved in a number of cases in which doctors and hospital personnel in the Baltimore, Maryland and Washington area have tried to cover up their medical malpractice / medical negligence / medical mistakes by changing or altering medical records. Surprisingly, it is not always hard to catch these people. After having reviewed hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of medical malpractice cases, I know what to look for in a medical chart, both in terms of what should be in there and what should not be in there. We also have the experience and resources to have a forensic document examiner test a document to determine whether there is anything unusual about the document.

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