[Name of Hospital/Clinic]
[City, State, Zip]
Re: Railroad Workers Injured on the Job
This correspondence is being sent to provide notice and be a reminder regarding admittance to, and treatment by your facility, of railroad employees injured on the job, and the difference in disclosure of information requirements and standards by your employees and staff.
This letter is to advise you of problems experienced by railroad employees during treatment because of interference by representatives of the railroad carriers (the “Carrier”). Railroad Employees are covered by the Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA), and are not governed by the same guidelines regarding release of information to employers as those covered by State Workers Compensation systems.
State and Federal law prohibit the release of any medical records without the express permission of the railroad employee patient or his/her representative. Please do not permit staff and physicians to discuss the patient’s care and condition with anyone other than the patient, his/her family, or designated representative. Please do not discuss the railroad employee patient’s care and condition with or in the presence of his/her employer, the [insert name of railroad, i.e. Union Pacific], without the express permission of the patient or his/her designated representative. You may release information to the health insurer as necessary to obtain payment for your services. However, you should not release any information to any other person or entity without express permission.
A major difference between the manner in which FELA cases are handled compared to those cases handled under state workers compensation plans is that the union-negotiated healthcare plan can be billed for treatment rather than submitting claims to the Employer or workers compensation program. In addition, unlike state workers compensation programs, railroad employees are afforded the right to seek monetary recover for injuries sustained due to the negligence of the Carrier employer, making the protection of the doctor patient privilege even more essential.
Please alert your employees and staff, including clerical staff, of these differences in reporting, including requests by the railroad employee or spouse to bill the personal insurance rather than submitting claims as would be done under workers compensation. In addition, staff should be reminded that adherence to the confidentiality of their patient’s records and condition is vital when dealing with the Carrier’s representatives, claims agents, and other “concerned” parties associated with the Carrier. The Health Information Patient Privacy Act reinforces the need to protect information regarding a patient’s privacy.
Should you have any questions regarding the above information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
[Name of Division/Auxiliary Officer]
cc: Chief of Staff
Director, Nursing Services
Director, Emergency Room Services
Director, Admitting Office