A very common issue in emergency room cases, especially code situations, is the timing of when key events occurred. A major challenge for defense attorneys results from the fact that the times recorded by various doctors, nurses and electronic records almost never match up. The times for key events often vary by 2-5 minutes. Plaintiffs’ attorneys either try to select the times that are most favorable to their theory of the case, or use the discrepancies in recorded times to attack the reliability of anything in the chart.
Defense counsel frequently must use witnesses to explain the reality that doctors and nurses often use their individual wrist watches or the clock on the wall to obtain the times they record. Those timepieces commonly do not correspond with computerized times from other monitors attached to the patient. The ability to persuasively explain the realities of the recording of events and their times can be crucial to convincing a jury that the health care provider met the standard of care.
This issue will be discussed in two separate presentations at the upcoming DRI Medical Liability Conference in March 10-11, 2011 at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Bradley Freeman, M.D. will provide the medical perspective on charting while rendering life-saving care in a code situation. Tara Trask (a very experienced jury consultant) will use video segments from actual mock jury deliberations to explain how jurors react to these types of issues in medical liability cases.