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Blog » Experts Opinion on Retrieving Medical Records

Experts Opinion on Retrieving Medical Records

Last updated: 20 Mar, 2024 By | 6 Minutes Read

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Medical records (including any relevant records) play a primary role in any personal injury claim. Once an individual files for a claim, the first thing required is their medical papers, as it is a matter of getting compensation (from the person or business at fault) for injuries done.

Any medical center where the claimant undergoes treatment has all the records of care provided and its cost. In case of a personal injury lawsuit– both the claimant and the at-fault party will obtain those medical records.

Let’s now discuss what experts have to say about this. Following are some experts’ opinions on retrieving medical records.

Experts Opinion on Retrieving Medical Records

1) 10% Less stress with outsourcing medical record retrieval companies 

The most direct way to retrieve medical records, as an attorney, is for you or your staff to submit a record request directly to the provider. However, this can be time-consuming as you have to track the department responsible for handling record requests. To get the correct contact information, including payment instructions if there is a record retrieval fee, to submit the request.

Oftentimes, medical providers outsource their record requests to third-party companies who handle and process the requests so tracking down the correct information can be actually quite labor-intensive. I think the best, most efficient means of obtaining medical records is by using a copy service company to submit and handle the record requests.

Copy service companies will handle the leg working terms of submitting the actual request with proper authorizations, any necessary processing fees, and the follow-up for a nominal fee. This saves the attorney time to focus on the macro issues in the case as well as a lot of headaches.

Credit:  Jordan W. Peagler, Esq, MKP LAW Group

2) Seek a local company that holds good relationships with providers

Look for a good local company that has relationships with providers and knows the game. While I or my staff could go get records and contact the hospitals, there are providers that have good relationships with the right people at the hospital or records companies that can get records faster and make the process easier for you. They can determine if they need other records based on the records they receive. It is well worth the extra cost not to have someone on our team deal with the issues.

Credit: MichaelFoster, Foster Wallace, LLC, Kansas City

3) Get the proper authorization from a client

It is critical for an attorney to obtain the proper authorization from a client in order to access any of their patient medical records. An attorney must obtain written permission from a client in order to request patient records from a doctor, clinic or hospital. The medical facility will only release any private medical records to a third party when the client/patient has signed a release form.

A request by an attorney to a medical provider should always include the patient’s name, social security number, date of birth, and the patient’s address. The form should specify the exact records that you request or simply all records in the care provider’s possession if that is the case. Depending upon the state, the request may also need to include the state statute that authorizes the release of medical records to an authorized third party.

Credit– David Reischer, Personal Injury Law Expert at Legal Advice

4) Organize medical records well

One of the best things a lawyer can do in his practice is to assign medical records to a dedicated employee. This employee only requests medical records. When they are not requesting, this person is following up on outstanding requests for records. When the records come in, this role is organizing the records and making sure the records match the bill, and the bills match the records.

This simple change in the workflow will free up so much time for your paralegal and other support staff. Your case managers spend more time with the clients instead of trying to locate records. My office uses this position as a feeder role for employees to move into a case manager or paralegal position.

Credit:  Justin Lovely, The Lovely Law Firm

5) Take help from the outsourcing service provider 

Efficiency in medical records fulfillment is a crucial element to a successful plaintiffs’ personal injury law firm. We work with vendors who integrate into our case management software which allows us to order records electronically, but more importantly, the records are delivered and indexed to the proper client file.

    While there is an additional fee for this process, it is a client expense, and the increased productivity for medical records is well worth the added expense. We switched from in-house ordering medical records to outsourcing several years ago. While the additional cost is significant, it is a client expense, and outsourcing has increased our efficiency tremendously.

    We have also been ordering medical records electronically through our case management system for several years. The days of mailing medical records requests and receiving the medical records in the mail and having them scanned are long gone.

    Credit: Michael McCready,  McCready Law

    Also Read: In-depth Comparison of Outsourcing Medical Record Review Services with In-House Reviewing!

    6) Ask the client for the required information

    My firm, Abogados Centro Legal, focuses on helping undocumented immigrants when they are injured through no fault of their own. The undocumented immigrant presents special problems when ordering medical records, as they typically don’t have a social security number and sometimes even refuse to give their name at the hospital.

    One tip we have found to be useful is to have the client bring in the discharge paperwork and use the medical record number that the hospital assigned the patient at the time the medical services were rendered.

    We are able to order the medical records much more effectively when we cross-reference this number in the medical provider’s system. This trick is also useful when the client has multiple last names and the medical facility only has the client listed under one name.

    Credit: E. Nathan Harris, Abogados Centro Legal

    7) Submit the proper authorization 

    Here are some of her general medical record retrieval tips for personal injury lawyers:

    • Always include a HIPAA-compliant authorization signed and dated by your client that contains your client’s date of birth and social security number with your initial request.
    •  If you need a certified copy of the medical records, include a form Certification of Records to ensure that you receive a Certified copy.
    •  Ensure that the HIPAA authorization and cover letter either includes the date of service or date range for the records you are looking to receive.

     Tips specific to the state of New Jersey:

    •  Many hospitals in New Jersey require their own authorizations, which can typically be found online. Submitting the proper authorization will result in you getting the records in a timely manner.
    •  A request for records must be responded to within 30 days, pursuant to New Jersey regulations. If the records are not provided in a timely manner and a lawsuit has been filed, then the records can be Subpoenaed.

    If the Subpoena is not responded to then a Motion to Ensure the Subpoena can be filed, which asks the Court to Order that the provider responds to the Subpoena. If the case is no in a suit, a Complaint can be filed with the Department of Health.

    Credit: Jaclyn Gannon, Cerussi& Gunn

    8) Take follow up on requests

    Obtaining medical records can be complex and costly, especially in cases where the client has been seriously injured, and treatment involves multiple providers over an extended time span. We use several strategies to simplify the process. The first is creating an accurate account of medical providers. Each client fills out a medical-provider information form during initial intake.

    If the client has health insurance, we compare the itemization of claims paid to make sure our list of complete. We also track ancillary providers, like ER physicians, radiologists, and anesthesiologists at each facility, as the client may not be aware of all of their providers.

    Follow-up is vital! As soon as we order records, we set reminders to follow up on the request within two business days to make sure that it is in process. Based on the provider’s average turnaround time, we set further reminders to follow up accordingly.

    If the client works in the medical field or is capable of helping with problem providers, we sometimes ask them to order larger recordsets to save time and money for the client, as providers tend to turn records over to patients must faster than a patient’s lawyer.

    Finally, using the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act can save significant funds when it comes to copying fees. On intake, our clients sign a HIPAA that includes language from the HITECH Act. We use this HIPAA form by default unless otherwise requested by a provider.

    Credit : Josh Rohrscheib, Rohrscheiblaw

    9) Review the records promptly after you receive them

    I have been a personal injury attorney for over 25 years and now manage a six-lawyer personal injury firm in Washington, DC.

    Some tips for ordering medical records:

    • Wait a sufficient period of time after the final visit to ensure that the records for that visit have been transcribed and are included in the patient’s file.
    • For hospital visits, it may be necessary to separately order bills for radiology and the physicians who treated the patient. The hospital itself may only bill for its charges.
    • It is vital to follow up on requests. Medical offices often prioritize other tasks over providing records, so patients who complain loudly are more likely to get their records first.
    • Review the records promptly after you receive them. They often are missing a particular note or record; if so, it is easier to obtain the missing information if you call immediately. Otherwise, they may require you to start from scratch with a new request.
    • Many states have limits on how many medical offices can charge for records. If there is such a law in your state, you may need to send a copy to the medical office if they attempt to overcharge you.
    • Embrace electronic records for a more efficient and cost-effective way to manage your documents.It may require a special medical authorization signed by the client, but is often a superior way to get records and bills.

    Credit: Thomas J. Simeone, Simeone & Miller, LLP

    10)  Use technology

     When clients are particularly tech-savvy, having them provide you with information from their electronic portal (e.g., MyChart) can be very helpful in making sure that you aren’t missing any providers, facilities, or visits.

    The patient can’t usually access complete medical records through these portals, but they can be a useful tool to ensure that what you request through subpoena, etc. is complete. I’ve also used client-provided electronic portal information very early in the process when evaluating the merit of a case.

    That way you haven’t spent exorbitant fees for medical records only to find out that the injury isn’t what the client thought it was.

    Credit: Colleen M. Blinkoff, Doran & Murphy, PLLC

    Also Read: Why Should Lawyers Adopt Technology for Their Legal Practice?

    11) Establish a symbiotic relationship with providers 

     There are a handful of ways our firm goes about retrieving medical records. First, we prioritizing establishing a symbiotic relationship with providers. We make it a point to empathize with the fact that they are a very busy department, but let them know of our expectations.

    We also conduct status checks and will ask providers if they are open to receiving a list of outstanding requests on a bi-weekly basis in lieu of a phone call. Constant calls to providers can result in a delay in processing and/or frustrating the provider.

    When reaching out to a provider it’s crucial to make sure that your initial request letter is clear & concise in regards to what you are requesting. Always include the client’s name, aliases, date of birth, dates of service needed, and last 4 of SSN on initial requests.

    It’s also important to make sure to always confirm the exact provider information with your client before submitting any requests (name, address, dates of service, etc.)Sending requests to the wrong location can result in a severe delay in processing.

    Lastly, providers should be given the state-mandated time to process requests but follow up in a timely manner (usually within 5 bus. days) to verify receipt and confirm processing time.

    Credit: Chad E. Jones, Chad Jones Law 

    12) Ask clients to request copies of medical records and share it with their attorneys

    Every patient has the right to copies of all of their medical records through HIPPA (though it does allow for psychotherapy notes to be withheld). It is typically easiest if the client requests copies of their medical records and then shares them with their attorneys.

    Usually, they just have to fill out the form at each of the offices they have visited, and the doctor’s offices will gather their medical records and deliver them through the desired route (fax, post, delivery). Another way for the attorney to gain access to their client’s medical records is through signed, sealed, and dated permission slips that grant them access to their medical records.

    They can then move forward on your behalf to collect the medical records. They, too, may have to fill out a document with all the typical doctor information: name, date, address, SSN, date of birth, records being requested, etc. However, it is important to remember that once medical records have been requested, attorneys must disclose all discovery to the other side. So, whatever it says may hurt (or benefit) the other side’s case.

    Credit: Alison Pearson, Hal Waldman and Assoc


    All the above-shared opinions by experts would help you determine the importance of retrieving medical records and the ways to go about it. However, many people, businesses, and even law firms outsource medical record and review services to external firms. This ensures unbiased review and management of records, and in case of a personal injury case, accurate records help the court reach a suitable and satisfactory decision.

    Are you looking for medical record and review services? Look no further than Cogneesol. We offer unmatched medical record review and management services to lawyers and law firms across the globe. To learn more about our services, get in touch with us today!