Medical records are often an integral part in evaluating a claim for medical malpractice. For those individuals with an extensive medical history, this may require that medical records be obtained from many different healthcare providers. The process to obtain your medical records and/or bills can be complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. Fortunately, the medical malpractice attorneys and staff at Keller & Keller are highly experienced in this process.
Receiving Medical Authorizations
Medical authorizations for the disclosure of protected health information, signed by the patient, must be sent to a medical provider for medical records and/or bills to be produced. These medical authorizations must meet certain requirements to be compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). While some medical providers will accept authorizations such as this one approved by the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, others have specific authorization forms they require to be completed prior to disclosing records. These forms will often ask that the patient specify the timeframe of treatment requested and the types of treatments provided (such as physical or psychological care).
Creating a Wrongful Death Estate
In the case of an individual who has died due to possible medical malpractice, a wrongful death estate must be created to obtain medical records for the deceased. Creating a wrongful death estate requires court approval. The individual who is appointed as the personal representative of the wrongful death estate is given the power to sign medical authorizations to obtain medical records and/or bills on behalf of the deceased.
How Long Does it Take?
The time it takes to obtain a response to medical authorizations often depends on the provider. Some healthcare providers receive hundreds of record requests each month. These providers have departments that specialize in reviewing requests, obtaining the requested information, and providing responses to requests. Smaller providers have fewer resources to address these requests, which can sometimes result in significant delays. However, even large and sophisticated hospitals can sometimes take months to produce records. To reduce delay it is important that you fully and legibly complete the proper authorization form and follow-up with the medical provider on a reasonable basis.
Once these medical records and bills are received, your attorneys can begin the process of reviewing and evaluating your case. This is why it is important that you contact an attorney as soon as you believe that you may have been the victim of medical malpractice.