You should never get the complete medical records until you determine that the case has merit and that you will file a lawsuit. It is a complete waste of money to get the complete medical records until you decide whether the case has merit.
Your initial letter to the hospital or doctor’s office request should be limited to the medical records that are relevant to your potential case. This is known as a “limited set” of medical records. If you have a new case involving a botched operation, your request to the hospital should be limited to a specific date of treatment and a limited set of the medical records.
Your letter to the hospital should read, “I only want the operative report, discharge summary and progress notes for the hospital admission on July 1st.” I highlight the requested medical records using bullet points to emphasize the records I want.
A limited set of medical records are all you need to evaluate the new case and will cost you about $10. If you ask for a complete set of medical records, the invoice from the hospital can range from $400 to $800. Why waste your money for medical records that you probably don’t even need?
In your letter to the hospital or doctor’s office, you should always include a statement in bold print that the hospital should call you to authorize the expense if the photocopying of the medical records exceeds $50. If you don’t include this statement in your letter, you may get stuck with a big invoice that you didn’t expect.
Remember, if you need to review the entire medical records, you can always request an “original chart review” with the medical records department of the hospital or doctor’s office. There is no fee for an original chart review. And if you want to avoid a huge photocopy fee, you can scan the original records with a portable scanner and email the digital records to your experts. Hey, you just saved yourself and your client a bunch of money.
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