Why the wait? Challenges obtaining medical records and bills

When it comes to personal injury claims, medical records and bills are critical pieces of evidence that can make or break a case. Unfortunately, many people learn the hard way that obtaining these records isn’t such an easy task.

A doctor pulling medical records from a cabinet

This can result in frustrating delays and even jeopardize the outcome of their case. In this blog post, we will explore:  

  • The reasons why it takes so long to get medical records and bills from medical providers 
  • The inherent challenges to obtaining these documents 
  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on this process 

As a personal injury attorney in Virginia, one of the biggest time constraints in my cases is receiving medical records and bills from providers. This can be a frustrating and confusing experience for everyone involved. Why would something that seems so simple be complicated and cumbersome?  

Ultimately, there is a multitude of reasons why this seemingly rudimentary process can take longer than expected. Understanding why these holdups occur will help set reasonable expectations for both clients and attorneys alike. 

doctors looking at medical records online

Why does it take so long to obtain medical records?

Reason #1: Privacy Protections

First, medical records and bills are typically obtained through a process known as a medical record release or request for medical information. This process involves the attorney submitting a written request for the records and bills to the medical provider, along with an authorization signed by the client permitting the release of this protected information.  

Medical providers are required to protect the privacy and security of their patients’ medical information, which means they have to follow strict regulations and procedures when delivering this information. They must comply with HIPAA and privacy laws before releasing confidential medical information.  

These procedures can take time, especially if the medical provider is receiving multiple requests for the same records. 

Reason #2: Multiple parties

Medical billing is a complex process that involves multiple parties, including: 

  • Insurance companies 
  • Healthcare providers 
  • Government agencies  

Each of these parties may have different requirements and procedures that must be followed, which can slow down the process of obtaining medical bills.  

Reason #3: Service fees

Some medical providers may charge a fee for obtaining medical records and bills and will not respond to the records request until the payment is processed.  

a doctor masking up for COVID

Reason #4: COVID-19 backlash

The COVID-19 pandemic provided additional challenges to obtaining medical records and bills.   

  • One of the biggest problems is that many healthcare providers had to reduce the hours of their employees, which resulted in longer wait times for medical records and bills.  
  • Many medical providers switched to remote work, which sometimes makes it more difficult to get information in a timely manner. 
  • Healthcare providers are receiving an increased volume of requests for medical records and bills due to the high number of personal injury cases related to the pandemic. This backlog of requests has further delayed the process. 

How can I expedite receiving my medical records?

Despite these challenges, it is important for personal injury victims to obtain their medical records and bills as soon as possible. This information is crucial for establishing the extent of their injuries and the costs associated with their medical treatment. To help speed up the process, personal injury victims can take the following steps: 

  • Contact the medical provider directly and request the records and bills in writing. 
  • Check with the medical provider to see if they have an online portal where you can access the records and bills. 
  • Consider hiring a medical records retrieval service, which can often obtain the records and bills faster than you can on your own. 
  • If you are still having trouble obtaining your medical records and bills, don’t hesitate to reach out to a personal injury attorney in Virginia. We can help you navigate the process and ensure that you receive everything in a timely manner. 

Overall, obtaining medical records and bills can be a time-consuming process, but it is important for personal injury victims to have this information to support their claims. By taking the steps outlined above and seeking the help of a personal injury attorney, you can increase your chances of getting the documents in a timely manner. 

 If you have been injured in an accident through no fault of your own, a personal injury attorney can help you navigate the process of gathering evidence, obtaining medical records, and much more. For a free case evaluation, call Allen & Allen today, at 866-388-1307.