Solve Your Case: Seek Medical Attention Early and Gain Access to Medical Records
Medical records help solve any dispute over the extent of injuries and recovery. If you're forced to miss work because you can't perform the necessary labours, this should be spelled out in the specifics of your medical record; if you can't go to school as a result of your injuries, your medical record should support your case. Getting access to medical records is your right—read on to learn more.
It's Your Right
While most people assume medical records are their own property, that's not entirely true. The medical records kept by your doctor or hospital are theirs. Worried? Don't be. While the records are theirs, the information in the records belongs to you. As such, you have the right to see what information is contained within your medical record.
BC's Personal Information Protection Act gives you the right to see your information. What information might that be? A medical record has information regarding any treatment, procedure or operation you've undergone. In order to see your records, all you need to do is ask.
Asking your doctor—If you've asked your doctor, and he or she doesn't get back to you immediately, you needn't worry. Most doctors have privacy officers who will act as the middleman and will process your request. If you'd like your own copy, your doctor is legally obligated to provide this. Keep in mind, the BC Medical Association made it legal for your doctor to charge you a copying fee (medical insurance doesn't cover it) and a fee for review of the records.
Asking your hospital—In order to see your hospital records, you'll need to contact the privacy officer in charge of information. Whether by telephone or written request, it may take a month or more for your hospital to respond. Once they do, you'll be expected to pay for your own copy. If you have specific questions, refer to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act here.
Now that you've gained access to (and a copy of) your medical record, it's important to ensure all information contained within is correct. As you scan through the contents, ask yourself whether or not everything is accurate. By law, doctors and hospitals are required to make sure all information in your medical record is accurate.
Notice a mistake? Contact your doctor or hospital immediately. Here's how:
- Ask him/her to make new entry. Doctors and hospitals are required to make note of your request.
- Seek help. If your doctor/hospital is unwilling to change information per your request (thinking it might cause immediate harm to your safety or health), contact the Complaints Department of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC.
Once medical information is recorded, it shouldn't be destroyed or changed. Although the information change you request is accurate, a doctor may be wary about altering your record. Be patient and use as many resources as you, and your personal injury case, see fit.
All of the foregoing requests for records and/or new entries are typically handled by your personal injury lawyer.
Your Right to Privacy
As your property, the information in your medical records is confidential. Only in certain cases are doctors/hospitals allowed to give out the information. Some of those cases include:
- A court can order medical records for your personal injury case.
- Your lawyer, with your authorization, can gain access to your medical records to understand your medical history.
- Medical care specialists need your record in order to treat you.
Your Right to Compensation
When it comes time to prove your personal injury case, medical records will be a vital element to gaining victory and being awarded compensation. Any record you intend to use in your case should only date back to the time of the accident unless there are pre-existing records that are relevant to your claim (nothing before).
On the other hand, if too much time lapses before you seek medical help, the records may be less helpful. If you delay, the courts may assume the injuries you sought medical attention for weren't caused by your accident and your personal injury lawsuit may be adversely affected.
It's important to ensure your doctor/hospital is keeping a detailed account of your recovery—the nature and duration of your injury and recovery will affect your compensation amount. Let your doctor know the extent of your pain and have them keep tabs on how much it increases or subsides.
While not everyone will need to get medical records for their personal injury case, having a medical record will greatly improve the outcome of your case.
For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us. Call Kenneth Cristall Law today! We proudly serve clients from Vancouver, Surrey, Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam, Richmond and Langley.