How to Obtain Your Client’s Medical Records Quickly and Cost-Effectively
Kristen L. Beightol, Esq.
In every personal injury case, negligence, causation and damages must be proved. Medical records are necessary to prove all three in a medical malpractice case and causation and damages in any personal injury case. Thus, medical records are the most important evidence in any personal injury case.
While ordering medical records may sound like a simple task, it is not. That is especially true in this era of economic downturns and tort reform. Not only are medical practices fearful of being sued, they have cut down on the staff in their medical records departments. That translates into delays in obtaining medical records, unless you stay on top of the process.
It is highly recommended that you hire a professional litigation support company to get your records for you. This will save you more time than you can imagine.
Below are eight things that you can do ensure that you get your medical records as quickly and cost-effectively as possible:
- Have Your Client Bring the Records to You at Their First Visit to Your Office.
- At That First Visit, Find Out All Providers and Obtain a Signed HIPAA Release.
- Order RecordsÂ ImmediatelyÂ Following the First Meeting.Â
- If you wait, it will delay the entire process.
- Be Clear in Your Provider Requests.Â If you are not, expect the request to be returned, which will delay the process.
- State in Your Letter That the Provider Must Call You if the Cost to Supply You the Records Will Exceed a Certain Dollar Amount.Â That way, you can narrow the request if the cost to fulfill it is too high. Otherwise, you risk receiving boxes of records with a costly bill attached.
- Include All Necessary Documents With Your Request.Â This includes a HIPAA release signed by the injured person. For a wrongful death case, this includes a properly executed HIPPA release and the death certificate and/or legal document proving the person signing the HIPAA may sign for the estate (i.e. Letters of Administration, etc.).
- Have a System in Place That Includes Following Up, Following Up and Following Up Again.Â Call to make sure the request gets to the provider. Call in two weeks to make sure the request is in progress. Call at four weeks if you have not received the records.
- Hold the Providers Accountable.Â Your state may have laws that require providers to comply with your requests. Have your lawyer explain the law in your state and make sure you comply with it in your requests. If the provider does not comply, you will have given your lawyer a basis upon which to go to the court to require the provider to comply. If this process requires certified mail, wait to send the letter in this format until it is clear the provider will not comply. That way, you do not spend the money for certified mail on every medical record request.
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Before you choose a litigation support firm, ask yourself this one question…
Can you afford to trust your client’s case and reputation to the lowest bidder? We didn’t think so either.
With the state of our current litigation economy, law firms, lawyers and their staff have never been more price-conscious. The litigation support industry is no different. Every penny you save will save your firm and its clients money, right?
The problem arises when litigation firms start competing only on price. Once price wars erupt, what this communicates is that those companies have no real value to justify a higher price. The question we propose is: “Can you really afford to trust your high-profile case and reputation to the lowest bidder?”
If you’ve ever seen the movie “Armageddon,” you will recall the space shuttle liftoff scene. The astronauts are strapped in, pondering their fate moments before liftoff to fulfill their mission to land on a comet and detonate a nuclear weapon that will save the Earth. Rockhound turns to his boss, Harry, and says, “Hey, Harry, did you know that we’re sitting on four million pounds of rocket fuel, one nuclear weapon and a thing that has two hundred thousand moving parts built by the lowest bidder? Makes you feel good, doesn’t it?”
While you may be no Earth-saving astronaut, we think you deserve better service than Larry Low bid can give you (yeah, you know that guy). After all, it’s your case. Your reputation. Your career.
When you compare the core capabilities of national and local litigation support providers, the differences might seem imperceptible. Both get records and provide professional court reporters. They all use the same third-party software to view these cases, and they all work within the same pricing structure. So, if one guy’s stuff looks and costs about the same as the next guy’s, what criteria should you use in making the decision who to hire.
Below are the criteria you should use as the deciding factors to hire the right litigation support firm?
€¢ Experience. There is no substitute for it.
Reputation. You’re only as good as your reputation. Don’t necessarily trust yours to a company that only wants to get your business no matter what price it takes. Price is what a company dwells on when they have nothing else to offer.
€¢ Value. Have you all but given up on value in litigation support, feeling the tug of the low-bidder vacuum? Don’t do it. Great service and follow-through does exist. What do you value?
Consistency. Companies stuck in low-bid mode employ low wage-earners who are here today, gone tomorrow. Do you ever get tired of talking to yet another “new” employee of the company that currently provides your litigation support?
Simplicity. Sure, it’s easy to automatically default to the low bidder, right? But remember the old maxim is still true: You get what you pay for. Bargain-basement prices more often than not end up with bargain-basement results €“ a poor quality transcript by an inexperienced court reporter or inaccurate records from a key source are two such examples. Either way, you lose. And so does your client.
€¢ Time is money. You want easy, one-time problem resolution.
Ease of interactions across all channels. People are the most important element of service. Beyond that, having the most up-to-date technology serves you best because you get the information you want, when you want it. When your litigation support service invests in people (think: better training, higher wages) and technology, they are investing in YOU.
Charlotte Smith Reporting can compete with the national firms.
CSR provides the same services and with more of a personal touch than the big guys. We go a step further because we are experienced professionals, passionate about what we do and have never forgotten what our founder taught us. Treat every person you meet – friend or stranger, client or not “ like they are the most important person in the room. This is Charlotte Smith Reporting’s commitment. No other litigation support firm offers a simpler process for ordering court reporters and records with a more personal touch then we do. The fulfillment of this commitment is our entire focus.
Ask yourself this question,
“Would I miss my big, 1-800 national litigation support firm if they went out of business tomorrow?” Would you? Does the firm you’re currently using provide superior customer experience that you would miss if it no longer existed? If your answer is anything but a resounding “Yes,” then it’s time to look elsewhere.
Call or visit simplecharlotte.com to place your next record order or schedule a deposition and see why Charlotte has become the litigation support firm that more law firms love to work with; there is a reason Charlotte Smith Reporting has been in business since 1968. We’re so sure you’ll love working with us that we’ll provide your first record order free just for trying us. Charlotte Smith Reporting is reporting and records. Simplified.
Call Today 713.523.5400 or 409.839.4407
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Charlotte Smith Reporting wants you to have your best year yet in 2012. Our next series of posts will talk about how to work smarter, manage your career, and lead a more meaningful life. Just another way we like to help our clients and friends keep it simple.
“You get up at what time?”
I hear that a lot, along with “You are so lucky.” So, I’m going to help out here and let you in on the secrets of my success. Well, not all of them–but enough to show you the foundation I build on every day.
1. Wake up early. For the next week, get up a half an hour earlier that you normally do–and get going. If you get a few more things done, then get up even earlier the next week. Early in the morning is a great time to get work done because most of your associates have not started emailing, tweeting, IMing, or posting yet.
2. Read the headlines and watch the news. Not only should you know what is going on in the world, you will also be the first to recognize opportunities (if you followed #1) for you and your business–long before the competition has even had their first cup of coffee.
3. Send something to one person who can hire you or buy your product–something you promised to follow-up with, a quick email with a link to something relevant or a “Hey, just checking in to see how thing are going” email.
4. Touch base with an old friend or associate you haven’t talked to in ages. Ask how they are, what are they working on and ask or suggest how you might help. You’ll make their day.
5. Write a handwritten note to someone. Seriously. It is a lost art and makes quite an impression. There is always someone you can send a thank you note to–or you aren’t doing things correctly.
A simple yet highly effective list. Try all five every weekday for a month. Then, tell me I’m right. If I’m wrong, I’ll buy you a cup of coffee. When you finally wake up …
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Top Ten Leadership Skills Necessary for Effective Paralegal Management
Carl Morrison, PP, AACP
Every paralegal manager understands the importance of having competent managerial skills necessary to administer a paralegal/legal assistant program in their firm or corporate office. But being a manager means more than just preparing budgets, conducting performance reviews and assisting in marketing endeavors.
Check out this informative PDF that talks about the skills a paralegal manager must possess in order to lead effectively:
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Trish and her team at Charlotte Smith Reporting are true professionals in the legal industry. They are always quick and responsive, paying special attention to our needs. We really appreciate their hands on approach to customer service.
T. Nguyen, Legal Assistant
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Each year, millions of women are diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is a thought that goes through every woman’s mind as mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, and many friends each year are affected by cancer. While this diagnosis has become common in the United States, thousands of women are also recovering. But many are now asking, what happens next? After placing their lives on hold while undergoing treatment for cancer, women now have a place to come to. Pink Door gives women hope, support, and provides a new life after cancer through Pink Door programs. Our goal is to help as many women as possible through our outreach, educating women on our programs, and offering the start to a new life after cancer. Pink Door is based in Houston, Texas with a chapter in Los Angeles, California.
I have donated and am a member of Pink Door Nonprofit Organization. As every woman has been affected by cancer one way or another, I feel good knowing that I’m able to help. ~Daniel Lue, CBS TV Show Survivor: The Amazon
Having a cause bigger than yourself makes life worth living. Our beloved founder Charlotte Smith lost her battle with breast cancer, but it is our hope that a cure will be found soon. This category of our blog we’ll share inspiring stories and staying healthy tips that will give hope to those struggling or who know someone dealing with breast cancer. We invite you to visit www.pinkdoor.org and get involved with the great work they are doing.
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