Ladies and Gentleman, the stories you are about to hear are true, only the names have been changed to protect the innocent…
These memorable lines opened each episode of the 1950s era police series, Dragnet. The popular crime drama chronicled the daily routine of a Los Angeles detective, Joe Friday, and his partner. Series writer Jack Webb emphasized realism, and was a self-proclaimed stickler for details—often to the point of tedium.
In the truest documentary fashion, Dragnet tracked every aspect of Sergeant Friday’s police work, step by step: from patrols and paperwork, to crime scene investigation and lab work — he questioned witnesses, suspects, and victims.
The dialogue was clipped and sparse, influenced by what is known as the Hardboiled School of crime fiction. Webb’s deadpan detective character, with notepad in hand, is now a stock character of American television and film. Friday’s catch phrase “Just the facts Ma’am” is not only legend, it’s the sort of terse line to which more recent crime show writers of CSI, or Law & Order aspire.
Examining the Medical Evidence – A Paper Trail to Truth
In many ways, the exacting attention to detail, keen observations, and objective record keeping that made for Detective Friday’s solid police work also characterizes the work of a conscientious reviewer of medical records.
Often, the legal teams and insurance adjustors will ask a trusted medical provider to review the medical records of a fellow provider. They are requesting a peer review by a practicing clinician, one that reviews the original injury, treatment protocol, recorded documentation and overall treatment strategies.
While all health care professionals should keep meticulous records, primary care providers must keep records beyond reproach. As the patient’s source of medical care, the significance of precise record keeping simply cannot be overestimated.
Knowing the Consultant’s Professional History
An experienced, well-connected Legal Nurse Consultant (LNC) will already have trusted medical providers in his or her network of medical experts. The LNC will have an established practice, and know the professionals on their list well. She has worked with them previously, and can attest to their record reviewing qualifications and history. Again, the true facts.
Just the Facts Ma’am – Words to Win By
During the medical records review, the medical provider alerts the LNC of any discrepancies or indiscretions detected in the records. The physician, chiropractor, or other licensed care provider will arm his partner with hard, objective facts that she can then use to construct a full chronological illustration of the case — from the very beginning to the present time.
That chronology can reveal any missing critical steps, any unnecessary treatments or therapies in the case. Questionable record keeping and practices, if present, quickly rise to the top under the weight of this careful inspection.
By enlisting a reviewer from an appropriate specialty, the facts of the case, are truly brought to light and understood.
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