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LNCtips.com: Working Copies

The phrase "working copy" of medical records has at least three different meanings in law firms.  Each meaning has implications for how legal nurse consultants manage medical records.  When attorneys tell you that they're sending you a working copy, you need to know which definition of working copy they're using.

 In the first case, a working copy refers to a set of medical records that can be marked up and rearranged.  Its opposite is a "clean" copy or "original" copy that is left unmarked and often in the same order in which it was received.  With clean copies, legal nurse consultants usually do not organize or write anything on the records.  That's where a working copy comes in.  The law firm duplicates the clean copy and calls it a working copy.  Legal nurse consultants can organize and make notations on working copies.

The second meaning
for working copies is different from the first.  In this case, a working copy consolidates records from different sources into one document.  Many law firms obtain records of the same provider in more than one wayFor example, the firm may obtain records from Anderson Hospital via authorization, subpoena, request for copies, in response to a request for production, etc.  The law firm places these records into separate folders and/or scans them into the firm's computer files.  The firm then labels the records and/or computer files by content and origin.  An example is, "Anderson Hospital from Authorization."  Maintaining separate folders makes it easy to understand the source of the records.  This can be important if another party in the lawsuit wants a copy of specific records. 

You would think that each set of records would be identical no matter how the law firm obtained them.  However, that's rarely the case.  Records may have one page or hundreds of pages that are different, depending on the source and timing of the record request.   For example, the plaintiff may have had several additional admissions at Anderson Hospital since the law firm received its initial set of records from the organization.  Imagine looking through multiple sets of clean copies of Anderson Hospital's records to locate a page that's in one set but not in the others.  It's a time-consuming and confusing task.

How do you create a consolidation type of working copy?  Make a copy of each set of records.  For example, if you have clean copies of records of Anderson Hospital received from authorization, subpoena, and response to request for production, you would make a copy of each.  Then cross-reference them, shred the duplicates, and place the remaining records in a folder or binder.  You'll now be able to locate the record you want without having to search in different locations for it.

The third meaning for "working copy" combines both of the previous definitions.  With this type of working copy, the firm consolidates the records, organizes them, and then places them in a binder.  The LNC is free to highlight or make notations on the working copy.

As you can see, the phrase "working copy" means different things to different law firms.  Therefore, it's important that you determine what the law firm means when it sends you a working copy.

...Katy Jones