It is an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words.
In the last week or so I have been reminded of this and the forensic usefulness of the modern era of smartphones and particularly phone cameras.
In the last week, on 2 entirely separate substantial claims we are investigating, smartphone-based photographs provide compelling evidence as to the condition of the relevant patients, not otherwise evident from the relevant medical records.
In the first case, the photographs taken by the parents of their newborn, including video footage, clearly demonstrates the child suffering seizures during the 1st and 2nd days of life, wrongly discounted as unconcerning “twitches” by the midwifery staff at the relevant country hospital.
In the 2nd, unrelated case, photographs taken by our client’s wife whilst he was a patient at hospital clearly demonstrate the patient’s appearance and grossly disturbed mental state, unrecognised and undocumented in the hospital records. He subsequently suffered a fall while unsupervised (falls remain, as they have been for 20+ years, the most common cause for potential medical negligence claims!).
In both of these cases, this recorded evidence (time and date stamped) may well be the difference between a claim being possible or not.
Traditionally, many, many cases could not be pursued because even though a patient’s claims would justify it, the relevant features were not noted in the medical records and because of the weight likely to be attached to the contemporaneous medical records.. This has been frustrating and unfair – the same reason worrying features may not have been documented after all being potentially the same reason they were not acted upon (ie they were not considered important).
In this context, all praise the smartphone (apple or android, we’re smartphone agnostic!), now 1 of the plaintiff medical negligence claimant and their lawyers best friends!