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Attorney Request for Medical Records: Best Practices for Compliance

Attorney Request for Medical Records: Best Practices for Compliance

Attorney Request for Medical Records: Best Practices for Compliance

Securing medical records is critical for the success of personal injury cases because they serve as vital evidence to support claims of injury, treatment, and damages. However, getting these records can take time and effort for your law firm. Here, we outline some best practices for compliance when making an attorney request for medical records. 

Accurate and complete medical records are a must for personal injury lawyers who want to paint a comprehensive and concise account of a client’s injuries and damages. Without them, how else can you prove fault or expose the full extent of harm your client has suffered to win your case? Here is what every personal injury lawyer needs to know about requesting medical records as part of a successful case strategy. 

What attorneys need to know about medical records

Before you begin requesting medical records, make sure what you are doing meets the legal requirements according to the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and any other guidelines in your state. Much of HIPAA’s legislation relates to patient confidentiality and even details the specific ways a third party can make record requests, access records, and store them. 

For example, HIPAA mandates that patients authorize the release of their medical records to any third party. Attorneys should obtain this consent using HIPAA-compliant consent forms. HIPAA also allows providers to charge reasonable fees for copying and mailing records, and they must respond to requests within 30 days. 

Identifying necessary medical records

Anyone who has received medical treatment for an injury or illness understands that no single medical record paints a complete picture of their diagnosis, treatment, and progress. Every specialist, testing center, and facility has its own billing and treatment records. 

Personal injury cases are no different. To build the strongest possible case, your firm will need to collect key records that include:

  • Treatment notes and history
  • Billing records
  • Diagnostic reports (e.g., X-rays, MRIs)
  • Prescription records
  • Laboratory reports
  • Hospital discharge summaries

Preparing a legal medical records request letter

How do lawyers get medical records? Usually, this is done by drafting a formal request. Every request will require some basic information, which you can further customize based on the specific records you require. It’s generally helpful to draft a sample attorney request for medical records, which you can fill in with the following information:

  • Patient information: Indicate your client’s full name, date of birth, and contact details.
  • Specific records needed: Clearly state the types of records required and the timeframe.
  • Purpose of the request: Explain the reason for the request to assist providers in understanding the necessity.

Finding the right balance between simplicity and specificity is the key to getting medical providers to honor your requests instead of pushing back on them. 

Executing your legal request for medical records

Preparing a proper medical records request letter is only the first hurdle — executing your request efficiently is an entirely different matter. You have several options:

  • Mail: Use certified mail with a return receipt.
  • Fax: Ensure the fax number is correct and secure.
  • Online portals: Many providers offer patient portals for secure record requests.

Maintaining HIPAA compliance with your medical records request

When requesting medical records to support your client’s personal injury case, HIPAA compliance is critical. Once you’ve established which records you need based on your client’s medical and case history, you can put together a master list of providers you’ll need to contact to retrieve records. Some steps you can take to maintain HIPAA compliance with your request include:

  • Client release: Have your client sign an attorney release of information form authorizing you to request medical records on their behalf. 
  • Secure transmission: Use encrypted emails or secure portals for the electronic transmission of records.
  • Proper documentation: Keep records of all requests, consents, and correspondences.

Ensure that access to medical records is limited to authorized personnel within your law firm. Redact any non-essential sensitive information before sharing records internally or with third parties.

Integrating medical records into case strategy

When you make a legal request for medical records, it’s vital to approach the process strategically. Understand which records you need and how they will support your case, such as proving injury causation or substantiating damages. 

Give yourself plenty of time to get the evidence you need. Medical providers are busy and can legally take up to 30 days to respond to your request. Establishing strong relationships with medical experts can shorten this waiting period and strengthen your case. 

Using case management software to manage your records requests

With roughly 146,000 personal injury case filings in U.S. district courts each year, personal injury lawyers have a lot to manage, including staying on top of records requests. Fortunately, you no longer have to approach these tasks the old-fashioned way. 

Many law firms are now using case management software to manage medical records requests, and it’s a game changer. For example, CloudLex offers a medical request retrieval application for lawyers that creates and assigns medical requests to Lexvia (a sister concern of CloudLex) — one of the largest personal injury support services firms in the country. 

This solution lets lawyers create and assign each medical records request matter to Lexvia, tracks the status of your medical records requests in real time, and links them to each case and plaintiff for quick and easy retrieval. This is all handled in one convenient place without the need for constant tracking and follow-up. All records are managed and tracked on HIPAA-compliant and secure case management software, complete with medical records request fee tracking for your case records. 

Seize control of your firm’s medical records requests

The consequences for being non-compliant with medical records requests or failing to secure the records you need to prove your case can be severe. Fortunately, a solution like CloudLex can put you back in control of every attorney request for medical records. 

CloudLex offers personal injury law firms cutting-edge case management solutions. With built-in features, you can perform medical records request reports and ensure you never miss a deadline. Contact us today to request a demo and learn more about how our cloud-based personal injury software can help with your medical records management and much more.

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