Any personal injury claim relies heavily on medical records. When an individual files for a claim, the first thing required is their medical records, as the claim is about compensation for injuries. All the records of care provided and costs are kept by the medical center where the claimant seeks treatment. Both the claimant and the at-fault party will want the medical records in case a personal injury lawsuit is filed.

In the following, we will discuss what experts have to say about performing paralegal outsourcing and retrieving medical records.

It's less stressful to outsource medical record retrieval 

As an attorney, the most direct way to obtain medical records is for you or your staff to submit a record request directly to the provider. The process of obtaining the correct contact information, including payment instructions if there is a fee, to submit your request can be time-consuming because you have to track down the representative or department responsible for handling record requests.

The medical providers often provide paralegal outsourcing to their records requests to third-party companies who handle and process the requests, so finding the correct information can actually be quite time-consuming. A copy service company submission and handling of medical records requests is the most efficient and effective way to obtain medical records. For a nominal fee, copy services will handle the leg work of submitting the actual request with proper authorizations, processing fees, and follow-up. In addition to saving the attorney a lot of time, this also eliminates a lot of headaches in the case.

Authorization from the client is crucial 

For an attorney to gain access to paralegal outsourcing a client's patient medical records, proper authorization from that client is crucial. In order to request patient records from a doctor, clinic, or hospital, an attorney must receive written permission from the client. A medical facility will only release private medical records to a third party after the client/patient signs a release form.

Attorneys should always include the patient's name, social security number, date of birth, and address in their requests to medical providers. It should also specify the exact records requested or simply all records in the care provider's possession if that is the case. It may also be necessary to include the state statute that authorizes the release of medical records to a third party.

Choose a local company that has relationships with providers

Make sure you select a local company with relationships with local providers before performing paralegal outsourcing. Although I or my staff could go get records and contact the hospitals, there are providers who have good relationships with the right people at the hospital or records companies that can streamline the process. Their knowledge of how to collect additional records helps them determine what additional documents are needed based on what they receive.

Keeping medical records organized

An attorney can benefit from assigning a dedicated employee to manage his medical records. Only medical records are requested by this employee. This person follows up on outstanding requests for records when they aren't requesting them. It is this role's responsibility to organize the records and make sure the records match the bills and the bills match the records.

A simple change in the workflow will free up so much time for your paralegal outsourcing providers and other support staff. Case managers spend more time with clients rather than searching for records. This role serves as a feeder role for employees aspiring to become paralegals or case managers.

Providers of outsourcing services can help

A successful plaintiff's personal injury law firm needs to be efficient in the fulfillment of medical records. With vendors who integrate into our case management software, we are able to order records electronically, and more importantly, the records are delivered and indexed to the appropriate client file.

The additional fee for this process is a client expense and the increased productivity for medical records justifies the cost. In the past, we ordered medical records internally, but now we perform paralegal outsourcing for that service. Even though the additional cost is significant, it is a client expense, and outsourcing has increased our efficiency immensely. Our case management system also allows us to order medical records electronically. Mailing requests for medical records and receiving them in the mail and having them scanned are long gone.

Authorization for medical record retrieval

The following are some tips for personal injury lawyers concerning medical record retrieval:

  •  Always include with your initial request a HIPAA-compliant authorization signed and dated by your client and containing their social security number and date of birth.
  • Include a form called Certification of Records if you require a certified copy of the medical records.
  • If you are looking to receive records from a particular date range, or the date of service, ensure the HIPAA authorization and cover letter include that information.

Utilize technology

If your clients are particularly tech-savvy, asking them for information from their electronic portal can be very helpful in ensuring that you don't miss any providers, facilities, or visits. Typically, patients can't access complete medical records through these portals, but they can be useful in verifying that what you request through subpoena, etc., is accurate. When evaluating a case's merit, many have relied on information provided by the client via an electronic portal for paralegal outsourcing.

That way you won't have to spend a lot of money on medical records only for the client to find out the injury wasn't what he thought it was.

Clients should request copies of their medical records, and attorneys should be notified

Under HIPPA, every patient has the right to a copy of all of their medical records. It is usually easier if the client obtains copies of their medical records and then shares them with their attorney. It is usually sufficient for them to fill out the form at each of the offices they have visited, and the doctor's office will gather their medical records and deliver them via the desired method. The attorney may also gain access to their client's medical records with signed, sealed, and dated permission slips.

They can then collect the paralegal outsourcing records on your behalf. Additionally, they may need to fill out a document with all the typical doctor information: name, date, address, SSN, date of birth, and records requested. It is important to keep in mind that, once medical records have been requested, attorneys must disclose all discoveries to the other party. In other words, whatever it says may hurt or help the other side's case.

This list of opinions by experts will help you decide on the importance of retrieving medical records and how to go about it. Despite this, many people, businesses, and even law firms perform paralegal outsourcing on medical records and review services to external firms. In a personal injury case, accurate records help the court reach a suitable and satisfying decision, and unbiased review and management of records ensure that.

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