HIPAA and Your Injured Worker
You have an injury prevention plan in place, but now you also have an injured worker. What now? Being in an industry where our employees perform safety sensitive functions, are subject to federal regulations, and have physical demands, how can we stay up to date with their medical clearance to perform their job of injury?Many clinics will fax employers updated work restrictions on a current Activity Prescription Form (APF), but what if you would like to request the chart notes or upcoming appointment list? Not all clinics are as forthcoming with that information. This is typically the result of uninformed medical staff. Thankfully, L&I has given us the resources needed to help these clinics get up to speed. Here is a link to L&I's page on HIPAA Privacy exemptions pertaining to worker's compensation claims. http://www.lni.wa.gov/ClaimsIns/Providers/Claims/HIPAA/default.asp
As the employer, your right to access medical information for your injured worker is clear; full access. This means, you can request medical documents/information and speak to the attending physician directly.
Why would you need immediate access to information? Why shouldn't you wait for L&I to post the documents to the claim file online? Offering light duty, certifying time off work, and just generally knowing what is going on with your injured worker is how you properly manage an injury claim. Let's face it, communication between company and injured worker doesn't always flow seamlessly. Your immediate access to medical updates can be pertinent to keeping a claim moving and getting your injured worker back to work as quickly as safely possible.
Employers that encounter reluctant clinics can help educate them by passing along L&I's HIPAA information. WTA Group Retro members can request the Group take care of that for them. Our aim is to help clinics understand HIPAA exemptions in order to help employers better manage their L&I claims.