Special Medical Issues
COMMERCIAL DIVING MEDICAL ISSUES
SPECIAL MEDICAL ISSUES
Documenting and Logging Medical Symptoms The most important legal right of a diver is the right to obtain proper medical care and treatment from a physician of his or her own choosing. By law, the expenses of such treatment are the responsibility of the diver’s employer. As mentioned earlier, in addition to the expenses of the physician’s services or medical facility expenses, the company must reimburse the injured diver for the cost of transportation and lodging to and from the physician or medical facility.
As a practical matter, documentation of injuries, personality changes, and disabilities are of extreme importance in any legal claim. Without proper medical documentation, it is almost impossible to prove the existence of an injury.
From the onset of the injury, it is strongly advised that the injured diver maintain a daily log or diary, including daily symptoms, improvements, disabilities, and mental impressions. These entries are important in preparing for future doctor appointments and for summarizing the substance of the claim.
Additionally, and more importantly, these entries are important in communicating to a treating physician all the symptoms which the diver may suffer. Seemingly unimportant symptoms may alert the doctor to a serious condition. Maintaining daily logs is also important if the diver suffers from mental lapses or memory loss, which are often associated with serious CNS accidents. An injured diver should include in the medical log all test results as well as dates and reviews of doctor’s appointments with all treating and consulting physicians. It is very important to secure these documents.
OBTAINING MEDICAL RECORDS
A patient has the legal right to obtain medical records in most states. Oftentimes a diver is told that he or she does not have the right to see, much less obtain, a copy of medical records because the fees for the physician’s services were paid by a diving company or its insurance company.
Well, that isn’t the law, at least in Louisiana. Here’s the law:
Louisiana Revised Statutes Title 40 §1299.96.
Health care information; records A. (1) Each health care provider shall furnish each patient, upon request of the patient, a copy of any information related in any way to the patient which the health care provider has transmitted to any company, or any public or private agency, or any person.
(2)(a) Medical records of a patient maintained in a health care provider’s offce are the property and business records of the health care provider.
(b) Except as provided in R.S. 44:17[dealing with immunizations], a patient ………. shall have a right to obtain a copy of such record upon furnishing a signed authorization and upon payment of [reasonable charges].
(c) If a copy of the record is not provided within a reasonable period of time, not to exceed ffteen days following the receipt of the request and written authorization, and production of the record is obtained through a court order or subpoena duces tecum, the health care provider shall be liable for reasonable attorney fees and expenses incurred in obtaining the court order or subpoena duces tecum. Such sanctions shall not be imposed unless the person requesting the copy of the record has by certifed mail notifed the health care provider of his failure to comply with the original request, by referring to the sanctions available, and the health care provider fails to furnish the requested copies within fve days from receipt of such notice……………..
(d) A health care provider may deny access to a record if the health care provider reasonably concludes that knowledge of the information contained in the record would be injurious to the health or welfare of the patient or could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or safety of any other person………..
B. As used in this Section: (1) “Health care provider” means a “health care provider” as defned in R.S. 40:1299.41 or a “state health care provider” as defned in R.S. 40:1299.39. (2) “Patient” means a natural person who receives or should have received health care from a licensed health care provider, under a contract, express or implied.
No one has a greater right to secure information about one’s health than the patient.
It is of no consequence that someone other than the patient has paid for the charges of the health care provider. Only with a thorough understanding of one’s health care can a patient and their family make informed reasonable decisions.