Alone, But Not by Yourself

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Alone, But Not by Yourself

“But she is so upset with me now!” That was the response from an advocate who wrote to me after an unpleasant encounter with a former client. Even though they had not worked together for more than a year, the client had contacted the advocate to ask for copies of her medical records.  The client knew the advocate had acquired them when they worked together, she needed them, and she didn’t want to pay for them again. Fair request, certainly. The advocate should have been able to turn them over to the client quite easily, either electronically or on paper…. Except that once their work was finished and several months had passed by, the advocate had deleted them from her computer.  As she explained to me, she didn’t want someone hacking her computer and getting records they should not have, so once she deleted them, they would not be able to do that. I asked the advocate, “Didn’t you back them up somewhere first?  In the cloud? or on an external hard drive not connected to your computer?”  No – she hadn’t thought about doing that.  She didn’t think she needed to keep them, and she didn’t have anyone to ask. So now she wanted me to tell her how to placate the client – because, well – the client was upset. I was dumbfounded. First, I was dismayed that the advocate wouldn’t think to keep those records backed up somewhere. There are some great options for doing so, secure and inexpensive. To me that is only common sense.  We’ve even had that discussion right here on the blog before, asking what a best practice would be for keeping client records. Second, I could hardly believe the advocate had not turned over copies of the medical records to the client when their contract was complete and the invoice had been paid.  Both the backing up of files, and the end-of-contract records exchange are good private advocacy practices, if not simply common sense. But even more so, I was upset that the advocate went ahead and did something so drastic as…

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