If you've been injured in a car wreck, you may be pursuing a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. To get property compensated for your injuries, your medical records are the all-important key piece needed to prove the effect the accident has had on you. In fact, the dollar amount of your medical bills are an important factor when it comes to calculating your potential settlement for the other side's insurance company, so having those records handy and available is vital. You do have some legal rights to access your medical records, so read on for a better understanding of how to procure those records and to ensure that your are offered a fair settlement.
HIPAA Rights and Protections
It was far more difficult to procure your own medical records prior to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. Among many other things, this act specifically addressed the ability of consumers to access their records. Most people know HIPAA as the form everyone now has to sign when visiting the doctor where you fill in important privacy information, but HIPAA was also a powerful and far-reaching act that had provisions for health insurance, privacy and access to records. For your purposes, HIPAA placed the responsibility for complying with medical record requests squarely on the provider, which is your doctor and any health care facilities, including mental health facilities. You now have the right to receive your medical records within 30 days after you submit a written request, or the provider has to give you a reason for not complying. The act also set limits on the amount providers can charge you for making copies of your records.
How to Request Your Records
Most medical facilities are by now quite familiar with your HIPAA rights to your medical records, but the manner of requesting those records has been left up to the consumer and the facility. You can expect the request to always be in writing, with your signature, and many facilities have pre-printed forms available for submission. If they ask you to submit your own request, be sure that you include the following information with the request:
Name, address, phone and email address
Date of birth
The date range being requested. Take care to get the dates correct, or else you could be combing through sheaths of unneeded paperwork to find the pertinent records.
Whether you are requesting lab reports, doctor's notes, x-rays, etc.
When sending out your requests, search through your own records and receipts to ensure that you don't leave anyone out. For example, a hospital stay will likely entail many different providers, such as radiologists, physical therapists, the hospital itself, the anesthesiologist, and much more.
If the Medical Office Fails to Comply
If a phone call to the facility doesn't clear up any issues and you still don't have your records after the 30 days, you may need to file a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services.
Contact a personal injury attorney at Allison & Rickards, Attorneys at Law, LLC or a similar firm for more information about your rights to this important piece of evidence for your case.