If you are involved in a personal injury case, at some point you will need your medical records. There are several ways you can go about getting them, but you will need to get them, and you should start early, because it will take some time. Although doctors’ offices often say they can have them on the same day, three to six weeks is not considered unreasonable.
Call the Doctor
The easiest way to get your records is to just contact the doctor’s office or the hospital yourself. You will need to give your doctor or the office your name and birth date, the dates you were seen by the doctor, and what records you will need, such as lab results or x-rays.
You should make this request in writing, rather than calling or emailing, so that there is a written record of your request. Although your doctor’s office may say they can have the records in three to five days, you should give yourself several weeks’ advance time in case things get lost.
Can My Attorney Get Them?
Sometimes you may be able to sign an authorization of medical release for your attorney. This gives your attorney permission to request your medical records on your behalf. There are pros and cons to having your attorney make the request for you, however.
If you sign an authorization form, you will need to sign one for every doctor and medical facility that treated you. Your attorney should advise you that the doctor who saw you in the hospital and the hospital itself will need separate release forms. Depending on the nature of the case, the doctor may not be allowed to release all information to your attorney even with a release, such as any drug treatment or mental health records.
However, your attorney will be able to help you locate any healthcare providers you may have forgotten, or whose practices may have merged, been sold, or gone out of business over time. As a personal injury case plays out, you may find that you need older records, and many people forget doctors they saw five or six years ago or who were located in another state. Your attorney can help locate providers you may have seen when you lived in a different state or who may no longer be attached to the hospital where you were treated.
Be Patient But Persistent
Once you have made the first request, give the provider a reasonable amount of time to provide the records. Georgia law does not specify any amount of time, but most doctors’ offices will not say they will get them to you in less than three weeks (ten to fifteen business days). Ask for an estimated date or approximate time.
Once that date has passed, call the office. You do not need to call every day, and should not, because they won’t appreciate it. If you haven’t gotten a response within a month, you should send another written request.
What Does It Cost?
Georgia law allows medical offices to charge up to $25.88 plus copy costs for search and retrieval of records. They usually charge the full fee they are allowed. Another downside to having your attorney make the request is that the medical office is unlikely to negotiate with the attorney. They will charge the full rate.
They may also charge you a certification fee if you want or request certified copies. A certified copy will include a notarized page with language that states these are original copies of your records. There are ways to have these fees waived if you are unable to pay, and you should discuss this with an attorney.
How We Can Help
If you are uncertain about requesting your records, contact Chris Hudson Law Group at [phone number] and let us take a look at your case. We can let you know if you have reached the point where you need your records, and which ones you ought to be requesting. If the insurance company is requesting them and you are not sure if they should be doing so, we can help you determine which medical records are relevant to your claim.