I Got An Adverse Event Letter from My Healthcare Provider – Now What?
April 2, 2015
A common misconception we encounter is that receiving an adverse event letter from a hospital or doctor automatically signifies a viable medical malpractice lawsuit. This could not be further from the truth. An adverse event letter is usually sent by someone from the risk management department and basically informs the patient that something out of the ordinary has happened. For example, if you fall during your stay at a hospital, you would receive a letter from risk management acknowledging the fall as an adverse event or incident. These letters also usually state that the incident is being reviewed.
Receiving a letter like this is not an admission of wrongdoing or guilt on behalf of the healthcare provider. Thus, it does not mean that you automatically have a viable case of negligence. In fact, these letters are actually inadmissible under Pennsylvania law in any kind of lawsuit that may be filed as a result of the incident in question. That means that should your case eventually go to trial, the jury would never be able to see or hear about the adverse event letter or even know that one was sent to you.
Of course, many cases involving an adverse event letter do turn out to be negligence. However, it is important to understand that these letters are not admissions of guilt and should not be treated as such. If you do receive a letter like this, your case would still need to be evaluated like any other potential medical negligence case including a careful review of liability, causation, and damages. An adverse event letter is not a golden ticket to establishing any of these vital elements of a medical negligence action.