The use of medical images as evidence in a court case has become a pre-requisite for cases constructed by personal injury, workers' compensation, and criminal attorneys. This digital evidence is subject to the same discovery standards as hard copy documents and photographs. As such, the attorney has to be prepared to share these digital images with opposing counsel as they prepare for trial. But since medical images are just compilations of electronic bits, subject to strict privacy law and only as good as the medical image viewer on which they are analyzed, medical images create a special transport and sharing challenge.
Ever since the case of Smith v. Grant, sharing medical images in the courtroom has been an accepted tool in the arsenal of litigation attorneys. But understanding exactly how to use medical images, ensuring that you have them when you need them, and optimizing their presentation, can be the difference between winning and losing at trial.
Everyone knows that litigation is an expensive process. Both the costs of engaging in litigation as well as the growing size of judgements are adding to the precision required when it comes to trail preparation and court appearances. Medical malpractice and personal injury claim awards in the US are soaring into double digit millions of dollars.
Healthcare professionals around the world are realizing that Cloud access is making it easier for them to share and access medical images while away from their office or while they are mobile, giving them more flexibility. Sharing medical images for second opinion, with other experts and even patients is an increasingly important aspect of patient care. Utilizing the cloud to enable sharing allows us to control access to these images without exposing them or violating the privacy of a patient.
While most of the rest of the world is enjoying the benefits of sharing, mobile access, and consolidation of multi-location medical images, Australian health care providers have been left in the outback. The Australian Privacy Law at both the federal and state level, punctuated by the Federal Privacy Act 1988 last amended in 2012 and its Australian Privacy Principles, basically prohibit moving any type of medical record whether electronic or not, outside of the confines of the continent. This means that any medical image vendor would have to locate data storage exclusively within the country, with no risk of transport beyond its borders. This makes the investment required to create “cloud” based medical image storage much more expensive since it must be tailored specifically to these Australian guidelines. Most vendors have balked at these requirements.