Under Maryland law Workman’s Comp Insurer’s do have the right to request medical records from injured workers doctors however there are limitations workers should be aware.
Body Parts injured
Under Maryland law subpoena’s in workers compensation cases are limited only to the particular injured body part. For example, if an employee injures his shoulder, a workers compensation attorney or adjuster may not subpoena medical records regarding his foot or leg. Common practice among Maryland workers compensation attorneys on the defense often issue subpoena’s to medical providers requesting “any and all” medical records. For the injured worker a release of all their medical records can be quite intrusive and revealing, especially when released to a complete stranger.
For the injured worker that is being exposed to this aggressive defense tactic perhaps it is best they consider contacting a Maryland Workers Compensation Attorney for a no fee consultation.
Differing opinions may exist as to the obligations the injured worker and the injured workers’ attorney have to disclose medical documentation they have received to the defense whether it is relevant or not. On an occasional basis the injured workers attorney will receive irrelevant medical records which may pertain to a different body part or different medical issues. Under the Code of Maryland Regulations, 14.09.01.10 (B) “No distribution restrictions may be placed on medical exhibits, evaluations, reports and similar materials to be filed with the commission which purport to restrict freedom of access among the parties.” However, under (A) “all relevant medical information….” (emphasis added to “relevant”)
The Process of issuing a subpoena
Usually a workers compensation adjuster will send a request for medical records to the medical provider. This is done using the workers comp “Authorization for release of Medical records” and a cover letter. When an attorney is involved on the insurance side they will use a subpoena for medical records. This is a bit different then the authorization however the basic concept is to obtain medical records related to the accident and make sure the employee is entitled to benefits under workers comp. The defense will request a subpoena from the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission. Once that is received they must issue a “Notice of Intent to Subpoena Medical Records” to both the injured worker and her or his attorney. The injured employee will then have 30 days from the date of the subpoena to respond with an objection. The grounds for the objection can be various and a consult with a Maryland attorney may help understand the basis of the objections.
On occasion an injured worker will be asked to provide medical records to the insurance company or an Independent Medical Evaluation doctor. Most often this request is included in the letter from the insurance company indicating a IME or second opinion has been scheduled. The hurt employee should make sure to sign and send to the workers compensation attorney or adjuster the signed medical authorization. The injured worker is not, however obligated to go out of their way to obtain medical reports as this is the responsibility of the workers comp adjuster. The practical consideration is to tell medical providers on every visit that they should be sending pertinent medical records to the workers comp attorney and adjuster.
Most injured workers would probably not mind obtaining medical records, and it is often easier for them to do so rather than an insurance company or lawyer. However, the issue remains with the expense of paying for the reports. It is common for medical providers to charge an initial processing fee as well as a price per page of records. This expense can quickly amount to $100 or more per provider.
Should the injured employee wish, he or she may file an objection to the subpoena. One of the most common objections to subpoenas issued by Maryland workers comp attorneys is that the subpoena invades the privacy of the injured worker. The subpoena must respect the privacy of the individual but also provide to all parties medical records useful in assessing the case. It must not cross the line into attempting to obtain medical records that are not useful in anyway by either party. In legalese the probative value must outweigh the prejudicial value in order for the medical record to be relevant.
If you have received a subpoena for medical records by a workers comp attorney in Maryland then it is time you seek counsel. Subpoena’s indicate that the defense attorney is looking for a reason to stop the workers comp checks, treatment, doctors visits, or more.