Our hearts go out to those affected by the current wildfires. MIEC supports the efforts of our Policyholders and Medical Societies involved in providing medical services to the victims of the California wildfires. We also realize that some of our policyholders have been directly impacted by this tragedy, suffered loss or damage to their homes or practices, and have patients who were impacted by the wildfires. Please see the following recommendations for responding to the wildfires, maintaining continuity of patient care, and recovering from damage to or loss of your professional practice:
Stay informed about California fires in or near your location:
Contact the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) at http://www.fire.ca.gov/current_incidents for updates.
Volunteer Medical Services:
MIEC would like to reassure our policyholders that their MIEC coverage extends to their volunteer medical services for the victims of the California wildfires. Please feel free to call your MIEC team at 800-227-4527 should you have any questions.
Resources for MIEC policyholders:
MIEC insureds whose medical practice was damaged or lost during the recent fires should contact MIEC as soon as possible. MIEC encourages our policyholders to contact the following resources to help them and their patients address problems which currently impact their daily practice. MIEC insureds should contact Underwriting, Claims or Patient Safety & Risk Management departments at 510-428-9411 for assistance with any specific issues or concerns as they pertain to coverage, patient-specific questions, and general questions such as practice management and maintaining medical records.
Take care of patients’ immediate healthcare needs:
Follow-Up: If possible or accessible, review your office schedule to determine which of your patients missed appointments during the fire, and review upcoming appointments. Attempt to contact these patients to confirm their situation, and document your efforts in the respective charts. If your office was directly impacted by the fires and you are unable to see patients, refer your patients to alternative sources of care such as colleagues, the ER, or urgent care clinic. Carefully document any instructions given to patients.
Some patients may have left necessary medications behind as they evacuated their homes, and those patients may need replacement prescriptions. When contacting your patients, inquire as to their current situation, their medications and any need for refills. If possible, call any needed refills into the local pharmacy.
NOTE:California law allows pharmacies in a declared emergency area to dispense emergency medication refills without physician authorization. For additional information, see Section 4062 and Section 4064, or contact the California State Board of Pharmacy at www.pharmacy.ca.gov.
Once your patients’ medical issues have been adequately addressed, you will need to address any loss or damage to your practice, including your medical records:
For electronic devices damaged by fire or water:
DriveSavers Data Recovery offers assistance with repairs of hard drives. Contact them at: https://www.drivesaversdatarecovery.com/
For paper charts that have been damaged by water, recovery experts recommend handling wet records as little as possible and keep them from molding. If possible, contact a professional document drying company as soon as you are able.
One example: Contact Polygon Group for a Complimentary consultation by calling: 1-800-422-6379 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you cannot contact a professional document drying company within 48 hours, there are some basic things you can do to save paper records.
- Contact your general liability carrier for resources and services to assist you in your recovery (e.g., fans, dehumidifiers).
- Intensify the air circulation in the storage area (to avoid humidity) and decrease the temperature.
- Start with the wettest documents.
- Don’t open or try to clear your charts.
- Freeze your charts.
- For more information on freezing and defrosting charts safely, review this article from the American Academy of Family Physicians (http://www.aafp.org/fpm/1998/0500/p76.html). Don’t thaw records without the assistance of a professional.
- Pack records snuggly to keep them for moving during transport.
** Third-party companies are listed as available resources only. MIEC has not evaluated these businesses, nor doe we specifically recommend any specific vendor. We encourage you to research additional resources that might be available to you.
In the event that your paper records were destroyed, and you need to reconstruct patient charts, it is important that you rely only on information that is verifiable from other sources as opposed to your recollection or that of your staff. After exhausting alternative sources of information within your practice, contact physician colleagues with whom you may be co-managing patients and, with your patients’ signed authorization, obtain copies of your patients’ information from their charts. Additional potential sources of patient information include labs, pharmacies, transcription or billing services, insurers, local hospitals, or the patients themselves.
Advise your patients in writing that their records have been destroyed and re-created based on other records and verifiable information. If necessary, ask your patients to provide any records they may have in their possession to further develop your reconstructed chart.