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Under Illinois workers’ compensation law, your employer or their insurance company has a right to medical records related to your injury. As a result, it’s very common after you get hurt for you to get a letter that asks you to sign a “medical release form” that authorizes them to have access to your medical records.
These release forms are written by insurance companies in a way that favors insurance companies. If they could, they’d see every medical record of your life since you were a baby. It’s a fishing expedition for them to look for something that might possibly give them a reason to deny your case.
The good news is that while they are entitled to medical records that relate to your injury, they have no right to look at any and all medical records from your life. So if you don’t want them to know you had cancer or are bi-polar or see what happened when you were pregnant or anything that doesn’t relate to the body part hurt on the job, you can restrict them from seeing that.
So how do you do it?
When we get these requests, we strike out any language that says “any and all medical records” and replace it with language that limits their request to the accident and treatment that relates to the same body part. They have a right to see records from a car accident that hurt your back five years ago if you are claiming back pain now. They don’t have a right to records from a car accident that hurt your back if you are now claiming carpal tunnel.
People assume that they have no right to push back against these forms or make amendments. They are wrong and we don’t let anyone we represent get pushed around.
Illinois workers’ compensation law is mostly common sense and protects the rights of workers. If you don’t want someone to access your medical history, you should not stress. You need not be embarrassed about the treatment you’ve had because it’s supposed to be kept confidential.
Bonus tip. Lawyers can subpoena medical records in these cases. Medical providers are supposed to limit what they disclose, but aren’t always careful. Nothing stops you from contacting those providers, letting them know you were hurt at work and instructing them that they do not have your permission to release any records that aren’t related to your accident claim.