Certified Specialist, Workers' Compensation, The State Bar of California
Board of Legal Specialization
MEDICAL INFORMATION DISCLOSURE
When you file a Workers’ Compensation case, the insurance company for your employer will ask you to sign a release allowing them to obtain copies of all your medical treatment records and reports. They will also ask you to disclose the identity of any doctors you have seen for your injury. Essentially, your medical history may no longer be kept private when you pursue a claim. There are, however, certain limitations. If you are represented by an attorney, your counsel should review the medical release before it is signed to make sure it is not overbroad.
Full access to your reports and records is very important for several reasons. Most importantly, they will be provided to your treating physician so that recommendations for your treatment are made with the best information about your health as possible. They will also be provided to any neutral doctor who is asked to render medical and disability opinions on your case.
With few exceptions, medical reports and records must be shared between the insurance company and the employee or the employee’s attorney. Special limitations only prevent open disclosure in very limited circumstances. If there is a dispute as to what records and reports may be disclosed, the dispute may be resolved by a judge of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and in some cases, the judge may review the documents privately before making a decision. This is, however, a relatively rare occurrence.
One exception to the full, open disclosure provision is with regard to your employer. Generally, your employer does not have access to the medical information except insofar as limited information may be required to allow a designated individual to assess whether there may be modified or alternate work available for you that you would be able to perform.