An attorney who represents injured worker's in their claims before the State Industrial Commission wants the commission to adopt a rule requiring health care providers to provide copies of most medical re-cords free of charge to all parties concerned with the claim.
Virginius Dabney presented a copy of a proposed rule to the commission Wednesday and asked commissioners to consider proposing a rule at next month's meeting."The medical community is already paid more than enough to gratuitously provide certain documents necessary for the full evaluation of an industrial claim, and I see no reason to be gained by allowing them to charge the parties - and particularly the injured worker - for their medical records," Dabney wrote in a letter.
Dabney said his rule is designed to encourage speedy and informal resolution of claims without unnecessary and lengthy commission involvement and to encourage the review of industrial cases in a timely and expeditious manner with the least inconvenience to all parties.
He said his proposed rule also is designed to require medical providers to provide medical records critical to evaluate a medical case without charge to any party involved with that case.
Dabney's proposed rule does call for payment for providing some re-cords, but the amounts are smaller than currently charged by medical providers. He wants a $5 fee for search and processing, 10 cents per page for each copy made from non-microfilm records and 25 cents per page for each copy made from microfilm records.
However, he wants several re-cords to be provided free as an exception to the rule. The exceptions would be: physician's office progress notes; emergency room records; admission reports; physical examinations; history reports; consultation reports, operative reports; discharge summaries; radiographic readings; diagnostics studies; therapy notes and records; and correspondence and letters.
Entitled to receive the free copies of medical records, if Dabney's rule becomes a reality, are the injured worker, his dependents or the dependents of a deceased worker; the employer, if self-insured or the worker's compensation insurance carrier; the Employer's Reinsurance Fund; the Uninsured Employer's Fund; the commission; and attorneys representing any of the above organizations.