Kanye West’s Mom and Dennis Quaid’s Twins: How to Prepare 4 a Medical Malpractice Suit

Posted on Nov 21, 2007 in Celebrity Justice, National Issues

janadamsdco.jpgToday’s news is filled with the scoop that Dr. Jan Adams, the plastic surgeon that operated on Kanye West’s mom right before she died, walked off the live set of Larry King Live last night.  TMZ has the video, if you want to see the replay.

And, right along with that reporting is the story that Dennis Quaid’s infant twins were inadvertently overdosed while at Cedars Sinai and while the situation was scarey, it looks like they’re going to make it.

Okay.  What should these families be doing, to protect their interests in they want to file a medical malpractice suit later?  What should you do, if you’re in a similar situation?

Well, one benefit these celebrities have is the media coverage.  The paparazzi swarms document everything — and that can be honey to a plaintiffs’ attorney.  Of course, this helps in cases involving car accidents and personal injury matters (think Britney Spears) more than in a medical malpractice scenario.

However, Dr. Adams did not help himself by walking the live television show yesterday.  And, he may well have made an admissible statement against interest when he blamed the patients for the 11 malpractice suits currently on file.  Oh, yes he did. 

Meanwhile, statements made by Cedars Sinai in the Dennis Quaid matter also appear to be admissible as evidence, should a case be filed.  Spokesmen for the hospital are reporting that there was an error with a drug, that patients other than the Quaid twins were given wrong doses, too, and that it was a “preventable error.”  You might as well put an Exhibit sticker on that press release.

What if you are in a situation similar to Kanye West or Dennis Quaid, but you don’t have all these reporters to help you gather information?

1.  Remember, you don’t have to file a suit – but accumulating information is smart even if you decide not to do so.   Better to have the info and not need it, than vice versa.

2.  Documents are better evidence that witness recollection.  Take notes of everything you see and hear.  Document it.  And, get copies of everything you can — admission records, patient charts, etc.

3.  Make a list of anyone that might have any knowledge of what is happening (later, a lawyer will call this a list of “persons with knowledge of relevant facts”).  Get their names, addresses, and phone numbers.  Get license plate numbers.  Get badge numbers.

4.  Keep a chronology of events.  Time, date, what happened, who was there, what was said, what was done.  It doesn’t have to be pretty – a spiral notebook and a ballpoint pen work just fine.

5.  Ask questions.  Write down what the answers were.

6.  As soon as your suspicions become serious, then you will want to meet with a medical malpractice attorney.  Someone who is “board certified” is preferable — they’re more experienced, and have taken a test to prove their proficiency at med mal.   Don’t feel that you have to hire the first attorney you meet — interview two or three, and go with your gut.  It’s an important decision and you need to feel very comfortable with your choice.

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