Gathering the appropriate medical records is the key to putting together a solid medical malpractice case. The history of how you were treated, who treated you when, how your medical profile changed, and other factors will ultimately determine who (if anyone) is liable for any injuries you may have sustained. Your attorney will help you compile the necessary information to build a strong case, but it's always a good idea to be prepared before you step foot in your attorney's office.
Contact a medical malpractice attorney near you if you have specific questions about a malpractice claim or require legal assistance. Visit FindLaw's Medical Malpractice Legal Help section to learn more about working with an attorney.
HIPAA and the Privacy of Medical Records
In order to share your confidential medical information, you will be required to sign a medical records release form. Health care providers and insurers are required by law to keep your medical records and health information strictly confidential, with an emphasis on making sure personally identifiable data is protected. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), enacted in 1996, codified these requirements. The release form is essentially a waiver from liability under HIPAA.
Types of Medical Records
Even if your injury is physical in nature, your attorney also may ask for mental health records. You may have an additional claim for pain and suffering, or perhaps the medication you were taking for a mental illness interacted with another drug, causing your injury. It's best to err on the side of providing too much medical information. Other types of records that could be relevant to your case include prescription drug information, insurance information, medical invoices, and similar documentation.
In addition to medical records, your lawyer will ask for evidence of lost wages or any additional costs or hardship related to the injury. Some health insurance policies cover lost wages or profits (if you are a business owner), but your attorney will have to prove that any wage loss or time off was caused by the injury.
Sample Medical Release Form
In any event, your attorney will need you to sign a release form like the one below so that your medical providers are authorized to provide a copy of your records to your lawyer. See FindLaw's Medical Malpractice section for more articles and resources.
Patient's name _____________________________________________
Date of birth ____/____/____
Social Security Number ______-___-_______
Telephone number (____) ____-_______
Please release my medical records from:
Name of provider __________________________________________
Please release all records, including but not limited to, progress notes, operative notes, laboratory test results, diagnostic tests, and x-rays.
I HEREBY AUTHORIZE THE RELEASE OF MY MEDICAL RECORDS AS PROVIDED ABOVE.
Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney
A qualified medical malpractice lawyer will help you amass all the necessary documentation for a successful case. Finding the right attorney can mean the difference between receiving compensation and walking away empty-handed. A good first step is to get a claim evaluation from a medical malpractice attorney.
Contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney to make sure your rights are protected.