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The Importance of a Treatment Plan for Claiming a Benefit for the Continuous Treatment Rule

There is a doctrine in the law known as continuous treatment rule, which extends the time a patient has in filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. This legally means, tolling the statute of limitations. In order to receive the advantage of continuous treatment, the patient has to continue the treatment for the same condition. This illustrates that if the patient is going to the doctor for some other complain or condition, the rule of continuous treatment will not apply.

Time is a Factor

Even though the patient might believe they are receiving continuous treatment because they are going to the same doctor, it is not actually true, as they are being treated for some other condition. Due to this, the patient will not receive the advantage of having an extension on the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, which is two and half years from the date of wrongdoing.

At the first consultation, it will be difficult for the lawyer to figure out if the client is eligible for the continuous treatment rule, and if it is possible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit at this late date. Everybody forgets details, and the client will not be able to give an accurate account of what happened in the past. Therefore, the lawyer will have to examine the medical records of the client thoroughly to find out whether there was continuous treatment. While going through the records, the lawyer will have to look for:

· Why the patient consulted the doctor

· What were the complaints of the patient that were recorded

· What examinations were done by the doctor

· Did the doctor address the patient's complaints

· Did the doctor design a treatment plan for that particular complaint

· Did the doctor order any tests to diagnose the complaint

In short, did the doctor take steps affirmatively that suggests he recognized the patient's problems, provided some treatment plan, and asked the patient to come back to check whether the treatment was working.

Gathering Vital Information

It is critical to know why the patient went back to the doctor in the next visit and the follow up visits. If the reason for going back to the doctor is not known, and if it turns out the patient went back for routine visits, then the patient will not be able to use the continuous treatment rule in order to get the extension of time needed to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Therefore, the lawyer will have to check every single medical record to see why the patient was there, and more importantly what treatment plan the doctor formulated to address the particular problem.

Unfortunately, if the doctor has ignored providing a treatment plan, and it is not there in the medical records, then the patient cannot claim the benefit of the continuous treatment rule. This is quite unfortunate because sometimes the doctor might simply tell the patient that he will be watching the problem for the time being and not provide any specific treatment.

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