Many people who have filed a Worker’s Compensation claim in New Jersey ask whether they are entitled to copies of their treating medical records from the health providers authorized by their employer’s insurance carrier. The answer is yes. Under the Worker’s Compensation Act, specifically NJSA 34:15-128.4, it is unlawful for an employer, insurance carrier or treating physician to withhold medical information requested by the petitioner. In addition, the rules of the New Jersey Medical Society require the release of such medical records. The records from a physician directly must be supplied at a cost specified by the Board of Medical Examiners. However, as a practical matter, when a petitioner has a formal claim pending his or her attorney requests the treating records from the attorneys for the employer or insurance carrier, which are supplied at no cost.
There is a distinction, however, between the records of a physician or other health provider who actually treated the petitioner, and what is known as an independent medical examination (IME). With respect to the treating providers, a physician/patient relationship exists. With an IME, however, this is a one-time examination scheduled by the employer or insurance carrier to give an opinion as to the need for further treatment, disability or perhaps other issues. An IME does not create a physician/patient relationship, and therefore the reports are sent to the party requesting the IME. At the appropriate time the petitioner’s attorney will be supplied with the report. If you are having difficulty obtaining your authorized treating records, you should contact your attorney immediately.