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Medical Record Retrieval

Medical record retrieval is an essential service for people who have to collect medical records for specific patient needs, clinical verification, follow-up procedures, collaborative clinical management, and medical research. Medical record retrieval is also crucial in lawsuits. This article dives into what medical record retrieval services can do for law firms, why this service is important, and how to choose the best medical record retrieval service for your firm.

What Is Medical Record Retrieval?

Medical record retrieval is the process of retrieving all medical documents needed to support a client’s case both for a lawsuit and when filing a claim and negotiating with insurance companies. Over the years, the medical record retrieval process has become more accessible with the influx of technology and companies that specialize as medical record retrieval providers.

Still, the process of placing medical records requests and accessing patient medical records can be highly time-consuming, burdensome, and requires incredible attention to detail. For these reasons, many law firms and other legal practices hire outside medical record retrieval companies experienced with the workflow processes to ensure efficient and accurate medical record retrieval, especially when working on mass torts.

Law firms that hire medical record retrieval companies for this specific task can obtain medical records needed by their firm to advocate for their clients more quickly. They can also obtain more accurate documents and ultimately free up the time of staff, case managers, and lawyers, leading to a more efficient firm.

How Does Medical Record Retrieval Work?

Medical records include health records, health plans, files, images, or other documents and information created or prepared for a patient by physicians, other care providers, health clinics, hospitals, or healthcare representatives. Most hospitals and doctors are now storing records in a digital format, rather than or in addition to a paper form.

With virtual versions of documents now common, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) allows hospitals and doctors to more efficiently store and keep track of each patient’s medical records, enabling medical record retrieval companies ready access to medical records needed for law firms. Medical record retrieval specialists have relationships with hospitals, doctors, and healthcare workers to help simplify the process of obtaining a patient’s records if they’re involved in a lawsuit. These companies ensure they act in compliance with both federal and state healthcare laws to secure patient records.

Usually, the process works like this:

  1. First, the patient, law firm, or insurance agent contacts the retrieval company regarding their involvement with a specific claim or lawsuit and requests certain medical records to support the case. The patient must fill out the necessary paperwork and sign the HIPAA authorization stating they agree with the release of the records.
  2. The medical record retrieval company then contacts the relevant facilities or offices to determine the location of the patient’s records.
  3. Once the retrieval specialist tracks down the patient’s records and retrieves information needed to acquire the necessary documents, they request the pertinent medical information by fax or mail using the appropriate forms and instructions. After the healthcare facilities or treatment providers receive the records requests, the retrieval company continues to follow up on the request’s status until they receive all documents, stressing the urgency to meet specific deadlines.
  4. Finally, when the medical retrieval company receives the records, most reputable companies scan the files into a secure database (if not sent electronically) and run quality control tests to ensure that all information requested is accurate and legible. If there are any issues with the documents, the retrieval company contacts the relevant facilities to correct the errors.

Not every vendor uses the same process, but the steps above are typically the most common and thorough methods used to complete the medical record retrieval process for record retrieval solutions.

What Does a Medical Record Retrieval Specialist Do?

A medical record retrieval specialist is an expert in procuring specific medical records from the healthcare provider’s central medical record systems and repositories. The specialist also organizes and maintains the health information in both paper files and electronic systems. Their primary role is to ensure the documents are correct and accurate. They also assign codes for insurance reimbursement when needed and keep the client file up-to-date.

Medical research specialists’ duties can include the following:

  • Contacting and following up with healthcare professionals and providers, as well as their relevant facilities and offices
  • Scanning and copying medical records
  • Downloading or uploading medical records into a secure database used by the medical record retrieval company
  • Maintaining the highest level of security and confidentiality of medical records (especially when sending the records to their final destinations, such as a law firm)
  • Ensuring the company and all processes used by the company adhere to HIPAA’s privacy and security standards
  • Planning and scheduling required office visits to ensure that all necessary records retrieved are accurately and timely received

Why Do Law Firms Need Medical Record Retrieval Services?

Medical record retrieval services can save law firms an incredible amount of time and money by allowing them to reallocate tasks, improve the accuracy of received medical records, and more quickly receive the medical records needed for the success of their clients’ cases. Here’s how a medical records retrieval services company can benefit your firm:

  • Saving Law Firms Time. Finding, requesting, tracking, and receiving medical records is a time-consuming and tedious job. If a person does not accurately request all necessary client records, it can take even more time to follow up and receive the additional documents. Investing the appropriate amount of time and expertise at the beginning of the process can save time in the long term by ensuring accuracy and thoroughness. Also, simply tracking down the needed client records can take ample time. Having the right tools, systems, and knowledge of procedures can help streamline the process to be more effective and efficient. A legal team could spend a significant amount of time searching for the relevant facilities, ensuring the accuracy of requests, following up on the requests’ statuses, organizing the files once received, and following up again if anything is missing or contains errors. Still, a medical records retrieval service can do the entire process for the firm without expending valuable staff members and other resources. Hiring a team of medical records retrieval specialists to acquire needed evidence to support your clients’ claims can free up law firm staff and attorneys to spend their time doing what they do best, advocating for their clients’ legal rights.
  • Improve Accuracy. Sometimes, the most frustrating part of medical record retrieval can be ensuring the records are accurate. The only way to ensure accuracy is to have someone with a thorough understanding of each type of record and whether it’s needed to support your client’s case. A medical record retrieval company has specialists with this specific knowledge to ensure that each piece of information received is relevant and provides necessary details to act as proper evidentiary support. It can get complicated with records from multiple providers, but our medical records retrieval specialists are up to the challenge and give each client’s case the attention it deserves.
  • Get the Medical Records Faster. Law firms have minimal time to contact multiple facilities and offices while also spending significant time working on complicated cases, speaking with clients, and attending trials. Additionally, waiting on medical records can add unnecessary stress, roadblocks, and time to the litigation process. Medical records retrieval companies know the best and most efficient strategies for contacting multiple facilities and offices and follow specific procedures to follow up and receive records as expeditiously as possible, eliminating unwanted worrying about untimely responses.

In short, medical records services can make your law firm’s life easier with its time-saving and simplified processes. Law firms don’t need to get bogged down with the tedious and challenging nature of medical records retrieval. Instead, professionals exist to take care of this essential task.

Various Types of Lawsuits That Require Medical Records Retrieval

Lawyers for both plaintiffs and defendants use medical records to help support their claims. Medical records help create an accurate picture of what the injured party’s health was like before and after the incident and how the injury will affect the party’s health in the long term.

Types of legal practices that benefit from medical records retrieval services are:

  • Medical Malpractice. These lawsuits happen when a doctor or other medical professional causes harm or injuries to a patient by failing to perform their duties competently. State laws vary on standards for medical malpractice (i.e., when to initiate your lawsuit and whether the patient needs to notify the doctor before filing). Still, it’s always crucial to have medical records to prove that 1) you didn’t have the harm or injury before the doctor or medical professional harmed you, 2) the doctor or medical professional failed to perform their duties, and 3) that failure resulted in your injuries. Medical records can show your health before the failure, after the failure, and note any indication of long-term effects. Common types of medical malpractice claims include the medical professional’s failure to diagnose the patient, improper treatment of the patient, failure to warn a patient of risks.
  • Product Liability. Product liability lawsuits result when a supplier, distributor, manufacturer, or another party in a supply chain, places a product into commerce with either inadequate or inaccurate labeling, a design defect, or a manufacturing defect that causes someone harm or injuries. Medical records retrieval is crucial in these types of lawsuits, as the records can clearly show whether the defect or mislabeling was the direct cause of an individual’s injuries.
  • Accident Cases. Accident cases are common personal injury lawsuits, as accidents frequently occur every day throughout the United States. Specifically, medical records retrieval services can help demonstrate whether an accident caused by a negligent driver or another party resulted in a plaintiff’s injuries.
  • Mass Torts . Mass torts cases require numerous documents for all involved plaintiffs, usually totaling hundreds or thousands. Handling this amount of paperwork is an extremely time-consuming process, contacting each plaintiff’s healthcare facilities, requesting the documents, and retrieving and organizing the documents coherently and efficiently.

With any type of lawsuit involving an injury, medical records will likely be a crucial element of the case. Ensuring you have timely retrieval and organization of these records will help your firm’s attorneys focus on advocating for their clients and being prepared to support their compensation claims.

Why is It Challenging to Retrieve Medical Records Yourself?

The unfortunate reality of medical record retrieval is that it’s often difficult to obtain the records, even when patients are fully entitled to access them. Just getting in touch with medical records departments can be challenging, as they are often unreachable by phone–even after multiple attempts.

Additionally, medical records request forms are often confusing, and there’s a risk you might not receive what you need if you complete the request incorrectly. Each facility can have different or inconsistent processes and ways to receive information.

Also, waiting periods can be incredibly long. One of the biggest problems is the lack of transparency throughout the process, making it difficult for people with less experience to get what they need quickly. Sadly, although individuals have the right to access their health information, many barriers exist to exercise those rights easily. The inconsistency in communications, lack of standardized forms, and generally lengthy wait requirements make it difficult for non-experts to retrieve medical records without a streamlined and effective process.

Finally, spending the time to retrieve medical records yourself, unless you have a dedicated in-house team, is taking away precious hours that you could be using to focus on other client needs that you cannot outsource.

What Is the Difference Between Electronic Health Records and Electronic Medical Records?

People use the terms “electronic medical records” and “electronic health records” (“EMR” and “EHR”) interchangeably, but the difference between the two terms is significant .

The term EMR came first, used by clinicians mainly for diagnosis and treatment. Electronic medical records are digital versions of the paper charts from a clinician’s office. These records include both the medical and treatment history for the patient within a specific practice. They track data over a period of time, identify which patients require preventive screenings and checkups, monitor how patients are performing within particular parameters, and monitor the overall quality of care within the practice.

In contrast, “health” refers to the broader condition of one’s overall wellbeing, including their mind, body, and spirit, and ensuring the patient is free from physical pain or disease. The term “health” intends to cover more territory than the term “medical,” thereby encompassing more than EMRs.

EHRs do everything EMRs do, but more. They include a broader view of the patient’s care, and their creation makes information easily shareable with other health care providers, such as labs and specialists. These records contain all data from all clinicians involved in a patient’s care.

How Can I Get Medical Records Quickly?

There’s no one way to speed up the process to receive your medical records quickly. The main difficulty of timely retrieval of medical records is contacting and reaching the facilities holding the records. Also, you must figure out the most accurate way to request the information and then follow up to ensure the facility sends you what you need. These tasks can be time-consuming and tedious.

A medical records retrieval specialist who knows and understands best practices and has the right tools to streamline these processes can help, obtaining your much-needed medical records more efficiently and at a quicker pace.

How Much Does Medical Records Retrieval Cost?

Medical records retrieval costs can vary depending on the following factors:

  • How many facilities are holding patient records and need contacting
  • How many types of documents need to processing
  • Whether the documents need organizing, labeling, and indexing
  • Delivery and any other services you might need

Regardless, medical records retrieval costs incurred by outsourcing the process will always save your law firm an incredible amount of money by saving you time.

What Is the Best Medical Records Retrieval Service?

The best medical records retrieval service provider is reliable, consistent, timely, and affordable. The most important factor for any medical records retrieval service is ensuring they provide transparent processes. When selecting a retrieval service, be sure to consider the following factors:

  • Do they have knowledgeable staff? Medical records retrieval specialists are experts in the field, able to comprehend the relevant documents and ensure everything provided to the law firm is accurate. Ask whether the company puts its staff members through a training program or requires a certain level of experience.
  • What is the company’s capacity for retrieval? This point is crucial, as the company must be able to retrieve, organize, and manage your needs, often meeting strict deadlines set by statutes or courts.
  • Are they able to answer your questions?
  • What will it cost you? Costs can inevitably vary, but most retrieval services will price based on the above factors and their years of expertise.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Medical Records Retrieval Service?

A law firm’s relationship with a medical records retrieval company must be one of trust, transparency, and a strong partnership. You must know that the medical records retrieval service will produce the results you’re looking for and also that you will achieve the needed benefits from the service, including:

  • Saving you time and costs
  • Allowing you to receive the medical records you need quicker and more effectively
  • Helping you verify the medical records
  • Organizing, labeling, or indexing processes
  • Determining what you’re missing and identifying any inaccuracies or errors with what you received
  • Following up and ensuring urgency to meet deadlines and best assist your clients within decided timelines

Law firms want a dependable, professional, and knowledgeable medical records retriever provider to gather the records they need for their clients in a timely and efficient way. Contact Consumer Attorney Marketing Group today to learn how we can help you with your medical records retrieval needs.

Your Source for Medical Records Retrieval and Review

Find out why some of the largest mass tort law firms choose Consumer Attorney Record Services (CARS).

Industry Relationships

Consumer Attorney Record Services (CARS) offers nationwide medical record retrieval and review by vetted, experienced professionals. Our database of over 90,000 healthcare facilities across the country streamlines the retrieval process. CARS is fully integrated with our Contract Services division so records can be ordered instantly.

Our rapport with large pharmacies, clinics and other healthcare providers allows us to operate quickly and efficiently.

More Than Just Records

  • Medical Records
  • Review and Summaries
  • Bates Stamping
  • Optical Character Scanning (OCR)
  • Chronological Sorting
  • Digital Media

Real-Time Database

Our secure online portal provides you with 24/7 access to all your medical records to view, download, and print. All records are secured through 256-bit encryption so you can safely transfer records to anyone at any time. With real-time tracking, you can generate reports, review request notes or look at the status of requests at any time.

CARS is HIPAA compliant and meets the highest privacy and security standards. Our staff also offers HITECH and HIPAA consulting.

When you use CAMG for contract processing, we automatically create requests in your online portal, including HIPAA and HITECH documents, saving you time and resources.

Our medical review staff has combined decades of experience, offering reviews and summaries, Bates stamping, Optical Character Scanning (OCR), Chronological Sorting, and Digital Media.

Access client records via our real-time, online database. When we receive the data, we make it available to you.

About Us

Consumer Attorney Record Services (CARS) streamlined process and trained staff take the guesswork out of medical record retrieval. CARS is an end-to-end solution partner for all your medical record retrieval needs. No other company offers the same national provider access to over 90,000 facilities. CARS saves you time and money and opens up valuable law firm resources better spent on building your cases.

CARS is a perfect partner for medical record retrieval and your medical record reviews. We understand the needs of law firms with all aspects of litigation whether it is high volume mass tort litigation, personal injury, medical malpractice, disability, or workers compensation claims. CARS supports all legal case types, and provides cost efficient access to all your medical record needs.

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