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Labor and Economic Opportunity

WCA Policy on Data Sharing


October 2, 2009


All Agency Approved Vocational Rehabilitation Facilities


David Campbell
Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant


Approved Rehabilitation Facility Policy Guidelines on Data Sharing With Clients and Plaintiff Attorneys

Over the years, the issue of sharing vocational case file materials has been a topic of debate within the workers' compensation arena.  At times it has created barriers for all parties to move forward with vocational services, especially so for the vocational counselors who frequently find themselves as the gatekeeper to relevant information. 

The Workers' Compensation Agency-while not the defining authority on all of the legal parameters of data sharing-has tried to at least provide a standard policy for all approved rehabilitation providers to follow in hopes of facilitating more efficient and effective sharing of information, and eliminating this particular issue as a barrier to vocational progress.

The previous guideline dated October 16, 2002, read as follows:


Effective immediately, all bureau approved rehabilitation facilities are expected to adhere to the following guidelines:


Case file material prepared by facility staff may be reviewed and copied by the client, the parents of a minor client, or a legal guardian, if the request is made in writing. If the client has reached the age of majority, the parents must be considered a third party, and access to client data prepared by the facility staff should only be allowed with the client's written permission. Clients, or a minor client's parents, may not have access to any data in the case file if it was obtained with or without cost from a source outside the facility unless permission is obtained from the originator of the material.


If a plaintiff attorney has the client's signed authorization, facility prepared case file material may be reviewed and copied. Data purchased or obtained from another source should be requested from the originator.


Clients or plaintiff attorneys requesting copies of medical reports from a facility case file should be advised to seek those reports from the referral source, pursuant to Section 418.385 of the Workers' Disability Compensation Act.

Thanks to the efforts of the Vocational Rehabilitation Advisory Panel, and based on input from the Ethics Committee of the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC), the original policy has been revised, and will be as follows:


Effective immediately, and in accordance with the Code of Professional Ethics for Rehabilitation Counselors, all agency approved rehabilitation facilities are expected to adhere to the following guidelines:


Counseling records are kept for the benefit of clients, who are the injured employees.  Upon request, access to, and copies of counseling records shall be provided to the client unless prohibited by law.  In instances where the records contain sensitive or detrimental information, the counselor has the responsibility of interpreting such information to the client.


Upon written authorization from clients using a specific release for non-counselor generated case file material, counselors shall provide the specified information to legitimate third parties, such as the client's attorney.


The VR Provider Professional Disclosure Statement (Form WC-500) is to be provided to each client upon case opening.  This document discloses, among many things, that case file material may be forwarded to the Workers' Compensation Agency upon request as part of the Agency's regulatory process.  A separate release is not necessary for this particular action, but counselors should refer to the written disclosure statement as necessary throughout the counseling relationship when disclosure issues need to be reiterated, and especially when records are requested.

If you have any questions regarding the above guidelines, please e-mail, or call 517-284-8891.