The Department of Correction (DOC) is taking the following measures during the pandemic to ensure that attorneys are able to timely obtain the medical records and sensitive medical information of their clients, who are inmates in DOC custody. These measures are for obtaining medical records of inmates housed in DOC facilities only; attorneys seeking to obtain the medical records of clients housed in jails and houses of correction must contact that facility or the respective Sheriff’s Office.
Guide Guide for Attorneys Obtaining Medical Records of Inmate Clients
Table of Contents
Limiting Your Requests
The department has seen a considerable increase in attorney requests to obtain their clients medical records, and facility staff are working diligently (within safe, pandemic-related boundaries) to fulfill these requests. So that this can be done, attorneys are requested to limit their requests for medical records to the time frame (and service type) of the records reasonably needed for the attorneys’ use. Requesting a client’s complete medical records when such is not necessary will only slow down the process of fulfilling the requests of other attorneys.
Obtaining Medical Records
In order to obtain client medical records, attorneys must complete the specific authorization(s) for the records requested, including attorney contact information, client information, as well as the specific records sought. Once completed, attorneys should send these authorization(s) by electronic mail to the contact person at their client’s housing facility (listed below) along with their request. Once facility staffs have obtained the client’s signature on the authorization(s), the requested medical records will be obtained, copied and provided to the attorney at the address listed on the authorization.
The following blank authorization forms are posted on DOC’s website, and are used to obtain the following types of inmate records:
Authorization for the Release of Medical Records:
This is used to obtain the medical records of an inmate, excluding sensitive medical information as described below. This form is to be used to obtain the results of an inmate’s COVID-19 testing. This form is contained as Attachment A to DOC’s Inmate Medical Records policy, 103 DOC 607.
Authorization to Release Sensitive Medical Information:
This is used to obtain the sensitive medical information of an inmate, including mental health records, records concerning drug or alcohol abuse, and HIV test results and/or any AIDS-related information. This form is not to be used to obtain the results of an inmate’s COVID-19 testing. This form is contained as Attachment B to DOC’s Inmate Medical Records policy, 103 DOC 607.
Medical Records Sent by Electronic Mail
The department has recently switched over to an electronic medical record for its inmates, so requests for records made from April 2019 to the present will be able to be filled more quickly (and can be provided to the attorney electronically, without cost) than requests for records before April 2019.
Medical records which are older than April 2019, as well as records unique to those housed at Bridgewater State Hospital and the Massachusetts Treatment Center (e.g., the Bridgewater State Hospital Administrative Record, Qualified Examiner Reports and District Attorney packages for temporary commitments to the Massachusetts Treatment Center) must be provided by facility staff and may not be able to be provided electronically due to file size. Records provided by facility medical records staff will be accompanied with an invoice in the amounts contained in 103 DOC 607.05. While pre-payment will not be required, it is expected that these invoices will be paid, as these records are not being sought for treatment purposes, but rather, for court proceedings and funds for these records may be sought through the court.
Electronic Mail Form
In order for medical records to be sent to the attorney by electronic mail, the following form must be completed by the attorney:
Authorization for the Release of Protected Records to Third Party By Electronic Mail:
This form should be filled out in addition to the specific authorization(s) above. The attorney should provide their email address on this form.