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With electronic communication and recording taking the medical community by storm, defense litigators practicing in the medical community are now educating their clients on matters their corporate counterparts have been dealing with for years—the right way to electronically communicate with each other. Plaintiff lawyers—for better or for worse depending on what side of the “v” you are on—are becoming far more savvy in the world of tech and metadata. But the words used in these communications are often chosen casually.

Jesse Broocker, Weathington McGrew, Atlanta Jesse Broocker, Weathington McGrew, Atlanta

Words written in email and text are just as “etched in stone” as formal correspondence for purposes of litigation. This extends not only to how internal communications are conducted at the provider groups we represent but also direct patient-provider contact. Creating faster and more accessible means for patients to communicate with their treaters, and treaters to communicate with each other—while absolutely commendable from a care delivery standpoint—creates new risk. With ease of access we all tend to reach out (and comprehend) substantively in a more informal manner. This leads to miscommunications, flippancy and more importantly—misses. At its worst, we have seen collegial text communications actually drag doctors into lawsuits. I have literally seen email chains with the subject line “smoking gun.”

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