Roanoke personal injury lawyers Dan Frith and Laura Ellerman had a post on their blog this week about problems their clients encounter obtaining medical records, and I wanted to echo their concerns. One of the biggest challenges that we face as personal injury lawyers is trying to obtain complete copies of clients’ medical records and bills.
This is complicated by several factors. First, most clients don’t know all of their providers. For example, one visit to the emergency room may require separate bills and records from EMS, the hospital itself, the physicians’ group that employs the emergency room physicians, any radiology group that took xrays or other scans, and an anesthesiology group. But the patient never knows about any of these providers, and personal injury attorneys and their staff are forced to track this information down.
Second, medical providers don’t like dealing with us. I understand that doctors went into business to provide medical care and not to do paperwork requested by attorneys, but we all have the same common goal: to help the patients. But sometime this goal gets lost, and it seems that many medical providers make it as difficult as possible to get records. In fact, the problem was so bad in Texas that the legislature had to step in and pass laws that set time limits on how long the medical providers had to provide the requested records and to set limits on the fees that the providers could charge for those records.
So while Dan and Laura are writing to help their clients get their records, once we take a case, we prefer to do that work ourselves. Although clients think they can save a little money by searching for their own records, my experience is that the client rarely gets a complete set of records, and it just delays the case because we have to go out and re-request the records.