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Can you access all hospital review documents in New Jersey?

As someone who has suffered from medical malpractice, you may be interested in taking your case to court. One thing you need to understand is a law in place in New Jersey that prevents you from getting all the information the hospital has on your case. Because of this, it is important that you keep solid documentation of your case and get a second opinion for your testimony.

According to an article from September 2014, there is a 2004 law that encourages medical professionals to review and learn from their mistakes. That law also prevents patients from accessing the hospital's internal review on errors made. While the hospital itself may find an explanation for a doctor's errors or neglect, the patient won't have access to those files and will have to prove that neglect in another way.

The law has been challenged, but it has always been found, after appeals and heading to the state supreme court, that hospitals' internal investigations are legally allowed to remain private under the rules of the Patient Safety Act of 2004. The point of this law is to allow the hospital and medical teams to review the adverse events without the fear of recrimination. This allows doctors to admit to mistakes to his or her colleagues without a fear of being sued by a patient.

It's been claimed that the law isn't meant to shield a hospital or its employees from their responsibilities and liability, but that does sometimes happen. As a patient, your option is to take your medical files and have them reviewed by another medical professional who can help you decide for yourself what went wrong. This testimony can be used in court.

Source: NJ.com, "N.J. Supreme Court ruling protects confidentiality of hospital's investigation in medical malpractice case" Susan K. Livio, accessed Feb. 17, 2015

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