You assume Mr. Defense Lawyer is honorable and ethical with release authorizations signed by your client. Au contraire, my friend. Mr. Defense Lawyer will cross out his law firm’s name on the authorization and substitute the name of the insurance company. With this unauthorized alteration of the release authorization, the insurance company processes the release authorization.
Once the insurance company gets your client’s medical records, they electronically file the records in a centralized database. But it doesn’t stop there—dozens of other insurance companies have access to the centralized database and they too have access to your client’s medical records. Your client’s medical records, including a load of private information, are accessible to a bunch of insurance companies (and thousands of their employees). Not exactly what you envisioned when your client signed the release authorization.
Hard, Cold Proof This Happens
You can bet that Mr. Defense Lawyer and his insurance company will hide this from you–they know damn well they’re not supposed to be doing this. But then how do you find out about this illegal breach of your client’s privacy rights? You create a release authorization that instructs the doctors and hospitals to notify you when someone other than Mr. Defense Lawyer tries to use the release authorization.
Your release authorization should instruct the doctors and hospitals to notify you if someone other than defense counsel attempts to process the release authorization.
AUTHORIZATION FOR RELEASE AND DISCLOSURE OF HEALTH INFORMATION TO DEFENDANT’S ATTORNEYS (LIMITED TO MEDICAL RECORDS ONLY, NO CONVERSATIONS ARE AUTHORIZED!)
NOTICE: This authorization is only valid for requests for patient information that are made directly by the defendant’s attorneys who are specifically listed below. The permission granted by this authorization cannot be assigned or delegated to anyone who is not a partner or employee of the defendant’s attorneys specifically listed below. Any attempt to do so renders this authorization void.
Should anyone other than a partner or employee of the defendant’s attorneys specifically listed below attempt to use this authorization to obtain the patient’s health information, YOU ARE INSTRUCTED NOT TO PROVIDE THAT INFORMATION and are requested to immediately contact the patient’s attorneys, John H. Fisher, P.C. at (845)802-0047.
With this notice, Mr. Defense Lawyer will be far less likely to alter the release authorization. Medical providers will be less likely to honor the release authorization with the knowledge that they will be violating the specific conditions set forth in the authorization.
There’s a good chance the medical providers will contact you when they receive the authorization. The conversation with the medical provider goes something like this, “Just wanted you to know what this insurance company is trying to do.” Get written confirmation from the hospital about the unauthorized use of the authorization and now you’re ready to kick some insurance butt!
Why This Matters
When there is an unauthorized use of a release authorization, your only recourse is against the defense lawyers. You have no contract with the insurance company or the centralized database and thus, you can’t hold them accountable for their misdeeds. Good luck bringing them to court.
Defense lawyers can be sued for violating the privacy rights of your client and the unauthorized use of the release authorization. Defense lawyers will ignore your client’s privacy rights and continue altering the release authorizations unless you hold their feet to the fire. That’s right, sue their ass!
If you’d like to see the release authorization that we use, send an email to our Happiness Creator and Problem Solver, Alyssa Marcello, at email@example.com and she will email the authorization to you.
photo credit: I’m not one to gossip, but… via photopin (license)