Why Having Medical Records Is Important In Determining Whether Or Not You Have A Malpractice Case
It is required to have medical records in a medical malpractice case to even have a chance at building a strong case. In order for an attorney to be help you, the medical records need to be available as soon as you contact an attorney. An attorney will be able to look over the medical records and determine whether or not you have a case that can move forward.
To determine if a malpractice case exists, the most critical documents are the patient’s medical records. Although it sounds simple enough, obtaining a complete set of medical records for an attorney to review can be difficult and can take a significant amount of time.
First, under Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), a medical authorization form must be completed and provided to the medical provider before they will release the patient’s medical records. If the patient is deceased, then the release must be signed by the court appointed wrongful death personal representative. Where the patient is deceased, it is almost always necessary to have an attorney assist the deceased family appoint a personal representative to sign medical releases.
Second, you must identify where all the medical records are located. A single hospital visit will likely involve multiple medical providers who are not necessarily employees of the hospital. Not often, but sometimes those providers may store their records outside of the hospital. It is important to seek records from every provider if the records are not provided through the hospital.
Third, it is important to not only obtain the records themselves, but also any medical imaging (CT Scans, MRIs, Ultrasounds, etc.) and labs. Although a report may be in the medical records, the actual imagines or labs themselves can be left out of the records provided by the provider.
Fourth, obtaining records outside of the alleged malpractice physician or facility may be important as well. Sometimes to determine if malpractice was committed, the attorney needs to review prior treating provider’s records. It may be important to obtain records for the 5 and sometimes even 10 years prior to the date of malpractice.
Finally, there is the cost of the records. Healthcare providers can charge significant amount of money to duplicate a patient’s medical records. New Mexico’s regulations provide that a healthcare provider may “charge reasonable fees for copying” but a “reasonable charge” shall not exceed $30 for the first 15 pages and $0.25 per page after the first 15 pages. Federal HIPPA law also governs the amount that can be charged for medical records.
Hopefully you have considered the need for your medical records and are in the process of or already have collected your important records. Our attorneys will look over your case and ask if you have your medical records. If you need assistance with your case give us a call at (505) 242-7200 and we will be glad to discuss your case. The Davis Kelin Law Firm is Albuquerque’s Premier Personal Injury Law Firm. We gladly assist with all medical malpractice cases.
 NMAC 18.104.22.168.B (2009).