What is an “RN Medical Merit Review” and When is it Useful?

Few things are as critical to a litigation firm’s financial success as accurately assessing new matters arising from the client intake process.   This is acutely true when dealing with personal injury and medical malpractice matters.  Attorneys know well that the time, financial investment, and office resources required to successfully litigate these matters are as massive as the cases can be complex, legally and medically.  Equally central to any new case intake is determining the strength of the case legally and providing injured families with the clarity they are seeking.  Sometimes that clarity is a settlement or jury award, more often it involves simply providing an independent review of the circumstances and an indication if any fault exists.

According to feedback to the Homestead Medical Experts team, many medical malpractice attorneys will intake hundreds of potential medical malpractice cases a year and will only represent 5-10 of those.  To make an informed decision to proceed with a matter, attorneys must weigh the legal and medical considerations, the available resources, time investments needed to successfully litigate, and the potential damages, awards, and outcomes.

Determining Merit in a Medical Malpractice Matter:

In many of these matters, the first step is to determine the case’s medical merit. Merit typically involves understanding where medical professionals may have deviated from standards of care, why these deviations were made, and if they potentially caused unreasonable injury to a patient.  Often, determining merit involves complex issues of medicine, the chain of medical professional decision making, standards of care, multiple specialists, complex diagnostics, surgeries, and the myriad of issues arising from those surgeries.  And how all those factors impact potential litigation.

Options to Determine Merit:

The journey of a matter from intake to the determination of medical merit can take several routes.   Some matters may have clear merit.  Should the attorney decide to proceed, these matters can be forwarded for a full review with an experienced medical professional for an affidavit of merit and report.  On occasion, an attorney may hold an advanced medical degree, including holding a doctorate in medicine, while others have vast years of experience handling complex medical cases and come with a deep understanding of the standards of care.  Some offices will maintain an RN or other experienced medical professional on staff to review merit and consult on ongoing litigation. Most firms will need an outside independent medical professional to review the matter for a professional opinion on merit.

Getting that initial merit determination from an independent medical professional can involve investing thousands of dollars in expert medical reviews and countless hours by the staff to secure the experts to review the merit.  Thus, cases not perceived to have strong merit may be turned away due to the expense of making that determination.   This is where the “RN Medical Merit Review” can offer an attorney substantial cost savings in determining merit and time in securing experts (when using the right service to review the matter).