[Encarta Dictionary: English (North America) chro-nol-o-gy (noun) 1. Order of events: the order in which events occur, or their arrangement according to this order.]
This simple definition is what many professionals conceptualize when they think “chronology”. If it were that simple, I could present a high school student with 1000 pages of medical records from physicians, facilities, hospitals, etc., and instruct them as follow:
• Create a basic four column table with headers across the top for the Date, Page Reference, Facility, and Event
• Enter every doctor’s order, every medication given, and the results of all x-rays and lab work.
• Include all vital signs, and every diagnosis that is made along with the physician and date.
• Use a separate row for each type of event and be certain not to miss any of the above.
• Write down the abbreviations and terms as you find them, but do not look them up
• After entering all information, sort by date, spell check your work and review the formatting
• Email the chronology to me within the next ten days
The result would be a 100 page chronology filled with errors and minutiae, faithfully recorded without knowledge of its bearing on the case, deviations from standard of care, definitions of medical terminology, or ability to connect the many dots.
A legal nurse doing the same chronology would be seeing the case unfold in her imagination, having walked those hospital halls, cared for the injured patient with comorbidities, understanding policy and procedure while juggling physicians, ancillary staff and family.
A nurse doing the same chronology would likely produce only 20 pages of data after sifting through the information that is not relevant to the case. There would be a fifth column with observations, definitions, research data and identification of unrelated conditions.
This chronology would be not an endpoint, but merely the first stage of organizing the course of events to allow a pattern to emerge. Only when the pattern of care is established will the inconsistencies become apparent to the medical eye.
Can anyone create a chronology? Yes. Does that make it meaningful? No.
Length does not equal quality, and recitation without filtering is a waste of time, resources, and a client’s money.