Your Privacy and Medical Authorization Releases

By Jason Weinstock on January 7, 2015

Some third-party administrators of Nevada workers’ compensation claims routinely send injured workers their own medical release forms which give the adjuster authorization to request any and all medical records from any medical providers. I don’t have my clients sign those overly broad medical releases. They are an invasion of the injured worker’s privacy, and injured workers are not required to sign those types of release forms.

NRS 616C.177 is the law that allows an insurer to ask about preexisting conditions and that requires the injured worker to sign a release. However, this statute limits both the inquiry about preexisting medical conditions and the release form to “a preexisting medical condition that is reasonably related to the industrial injury of that injured employee.” [emphasis added] This law also states that the release is to assist the insurer to determine the nature and amount of workers’ compensation to which the employee is entitled.

NAC 616C.079, a regulation adopted by the DIR, says that the insurer may require the injured worker to sign a medical release for records “necessary for the insurer to obtain appropriate information and documents to determine the nature and amount of benefits.” [emphasis added] To the extent a regulation conflicts with a statute, the statute prevails, according to rules of statutory interpretation by the Nevada Supreme Court.

NRS 616A.400 gives authority to the DIR to regulate the forms used to process workers’ compensation claims. DIR passed NAC616A.480(4) which requires insurers and third-party administrators to use the forms that DIR has written and listed in that regulation. One of those forms is the D-36 used by insurers to ask about prior medical conditions that might affect the current claim. This form has a medical release incorporated into the form. It is a limited release form and only requests records pertinent to the injury. Insurers who want to use a different form are supposed to ask permission from DIR.

I doubt that DIR would authorize an insurer to use a very broad medical release form that can be used to obtain medical records for all past treatment, regardless of its relevancy to the current injury. If DIR were to approve such a form, it is my opinion that it would be a violation of the first law I cited, NRS 616C.177, that limits inquiries and releases to records of preexisting conditions that are reasonably related to the claim.

Rather than just fail to return an overly broad release, I recommend that you print the D-36 form that is linked in this post, complete it as to any body parts that are at issue with this claim, and tell the adjuster that you will not sign other forms that are not authorized by DIR.


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