A common problem facing seriously injured nursing home or hospital claimants bringing suits directly or through their family members is an increasing, often purposeful, failure by facilities to properly document what actually happened in the resident or patient’s charts. Rather, under the guise of what is called quality management or peer review, nursing homes and hospitals increasingly fail to sufficiently and forthrightly chart what actually happened in critical incidents in the victim’s records. Instead, they have care staff write memos to their so called Quality Management (“QM”) committees and stamp them all confidential.
Often when Courts order facilities to give us such documents we find they are actually written on nursing or progress note forms that should have been placed all along in the victims care charts. Thus, frequently the only written factual accounts of what happened to the injured or deceased person are buried in Quality Management files. Lawyers defending health care institutions regularly attempt to prevent such documents from being discovered.
Our firm has been involved in several litigation fights to obtain these materials, successfully arguing that the facts underlying internal investigations by eye witnesses detailing what happened are not state secrets but central case factual evidence that is not privileged and cannot be hidden from discovery in lawsuits under the guise of being part of internal investigations for overall care improvement. There is increasing judicial support from the Colorado Supreme Court and lower courts for this position. The firm participated in a major article discussion of this very serious litigation issue still plaguing wrongful death claims published as a cover story by Westword writer, Alan Predergast.
See the Westword Story here: What Hospitals Don't Tell Patients and Their Families When Things Go Wrong.