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LNCtips.com: Bates Stamping


As a new legal nurse consultant, your attorney may  ask you to Bates stamp medical records and other legal documents. What is Bates stamping?  It's a way to apply a unique number to each page of each case document to quickly review and retrieve specific pages.

Bates stamping can be very helpful when experts and the legal team discuss the case. Instead of shuffling through a chart in an attempt to locate a certain notation, the team can go to a unique page number. Bates stamping is also helpful in locating specific document pages during trials.

There are two ways to add Bates stamps - mechanically and electronically. Mechanical Bates stamping uses a self-inking automatic numbering machine, which can be obtained at office supply stores. They're simple to use.  Follow the machine's instructions to set your starting number, find a blank space on your document and press down.  (Practice on plain paper first). Each page that you stamp will be in sequential order and will look something like this:

Another way to add numbers mechanically is to print sequential numbers on labels and then apply the labels to your documents.  Either way, mechanical Bates stamping is a labor intensive process.  And you'll have a sore shoulder if you use the automatic numbering machine for a lot of documents.

Electronic Bates stamping is another way to sequentially number documents. This method requires the documents to be in an electronic format. Then, use software such as Adobe Acrobat(full versions, not Reader), to create a sequence of electronic numbers on documents so that it looks something like this:

With this method, you can type additional information, such as the case name, to the stamp.   It takes only minutes to electronically Bates stamp thousands of document pages so this method is quick and painless. But electronic Bates stamping may require re-printing every document with its unique number.

No matter which way you Bates stamp records, you'll need an index to identify which numbers correspond to each set of documents. For example, you'll need to know that the numbers from ABC Hospital are 1-525, DEF Hospital are 526-1347, etc.

...Katy Jones