Call the Health Information Management (HIM) Department
Before you send your medical record request documents, check each facility's website for any available instructions. It is also imperative that you call the HIM department directly to identify (or confirm) the method by which you should send the request. Requests are typically transmitted via fax, however, some facilities require hard copies of the request by mail. Very few allow record request documents to be transmitted via secure email.
Even though HIPAA allows providers 30 days to process the request and send records, records are rarely received in that time frame. Unless the records are requested on an "urgent" or "rush" basis, or a subpoena is involved, it can take several months to receive records. Typically, the HIM department (especially at a large medical center) will need extensive prodding to process the request and eventually send the records. One reason for delay is that older records are often at an outside storage facility. Older records may also have been destroyed based on facility policy. Other facilities may claim a delay is based on a "backlog" of requests. Once retrieved, records may be mailed to you, sent by fax (typically only if under 100 pages), or placed on a secure website for download.
Once the request has been processed, an invoice will be sent prior to the release of the records or the invoice may accompany the records. Some facilities do not charge for small record sets.
Identify Additional Providers
A review of the initial set of medical records may provide information regarding additional key providers or facilities necessary to the case (which may have been omitted from the list provided by opposing counsel).
Like other aspects of discovery, good record collection requires diligence and attention to detail. In order to expedite this process, and reduce time and costs involved, your firm may consider retaining an outside company specializing record retrieval and analysis services.