Policy offers staff guidance when attorneys call for info

This is the beginning of the 10-page attorney contact policy in use at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle:

Policy: Health care providers at Harborview Medical Center (HMC) and University of Wash ing ton Medical Center (UWMC) will cooperate in providing information within the scope of their job responsibilities and as provided by law to attorneys.

Procedure: When contacted by an attorney regarding a patient treated at HMC/UWMC, it is the responsibility of the faculty or employee to reply to the attorney unless otherwise advised by legal counsel or Medical Center/University Administration.

I. Prior to discussing any patient information, the person/entity requesting information must present a signed Consent for Release of Medical Information. A signed consent form is valid for 90 days.

II. Obtain the following:

A. The attorney’s name, firm, and phone number.

B. The name of the attorney’s client.

C. The name of the patient.

D. Confirmation/denial of any involvement in the case by the University, Medical Center(s), or affiliated site(s).

E. The type of the request and response:

1. For a malpractice claim: Refer the request to UW Risk Management. Decline to comment on the case without legal counsel.

2. For medical records: Refer the request to the Legal Desk, Patient Data Services (Medical Records). There is a required prepaid fee for this service. Direct inquiries to: [insert phone numbers and internal mail addresses for the medical records department].

3. Signature identification:

    a. Refer the request to the Patient Data Services Department.

    b. If signature identification is unsuccessful there, refer the request to the department manager of the treating unit.

4. For policy and procedure requests: When hospital staff are asked by an attorney to provide a copy of a hospital policy or procedure, notify the Department Manager. The Department Mana ger will evaluate the request and arrange for billing to cover the cost of the resources used in filling the request (see section VI). Risk Manage ment and the Health Sciences Assistant Attorneys General are available for consult in deciding to deny or comply with the request.