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POLICY REGARDING MEDICAL LETTERS
THIS POLICY DESCRIBES LETTERS OF NEED, AUTHORIZATION, and VERIFICATION OF MEDICAL CONDITION.
PLEASE REVIEW IT CAREFULLY.
Healthcare professionals are often put in positions to act as gatekeepers of sorts. They are asked to offer professional opinions or recommendations as to whether or not there is a need for treatments and ancillary services that may benefit a patient. This is an accepted role that healthcare professionals take on. It is important for you to know that although a particular treatment or service is recommended by your provider, it is ultimately the requesting organization that makes the final decision, and that decision may go against your provider's recommendation. Additionally, when requesting a letter from your provider, please keep in mind that your provider must have sufficient knowledge of the history of your condition to be able to speak confidently as to its severity and future outlook. This cannot be done in a single visit. You should expect a minimum of four (4) visits before any letter attesting to one's medical/psychological condition. The underlying rule is that the provider must be able to clinically justify the recommendation and that they are evidence-based, and in accordance with current Clinical Practice Guidelines.
I. REQUEST FOR AN EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL (ESA):
There is no doubt that having an animal near can bring a sense of calm and comfort, and this is the foundation of having an "Emotional Support Animal". Unlike "Service Animals" (SA) which are trained to provide a specific task or function, ESA's exist in name only and have no formal legal designation or regulation. Despite lacking the legal backing, some airlines and housing entities often make allowances for ESA's when animals would otherwise be prohibited. Unfortunately, there are many who abuse this and seek to have their pet's designated as support animals for the purpose of being able to move into a "no pets allowed" apartment, or to take their pet with them on a plane trip.
Due to the lack of legal and regulatory guidelines, it is the policy of this practice to decline to write letters to designate an animal as an Emotional Support Animal or to specify that someone needs an ESA. There is no clear criteria for making this determination and it is difficult to make the clinical distintion between an ESA and a pet with regard to the derived benefit.
II. REQUEST FOR A SERVICE ANIMAL:
Service Animals (SA) have certain legal protections by law and are defined by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Letters to recommend a Service Animal can be written, should it be deemed that the requested Serivce Animal can provide the required function. Service Animals must provide a specific task or function to assist a person with a disability. There must be a sufficient amount of time to make the determination of need and function for the Service Animal. You should NOT expect to be seen solely for the purpose of obtaining a letter for a Service Animal.
III. COMPLETION OF WORKMAN'S COMPENSATION FORMS:
Workmans Comp paperwork can be intimidating and complex depending on the nature of the issue and often stands in the way of obtaining much needed medical care or income. Generally, the required paperwork to describe the physical or mental health of the individal for the purposes of qualifying for benefits can be done however, your provider must have suffienct knowledge of your condition and history to attest to the nature of the condition and prognosis. You should NOT expect to be seen solely for the purpose of having the necessary Workman's Comp form(s) completed.
IV. REQUEST FOR A LEAVE OF ABSENCE:
There may be occasions where time away from work or school would be beneficial for physical/mental health reasons. Organizations will typically require a letter from a health professional stipulating the need for the time away from work or school. Every organization has their own requirements for these requests and some may cross the line of Privacy. When such letters are written, they will be done in accordance with HIPAA guidelines and provide the minimum information that is necessary and with your written authorization. As with all other health professional attestations, your provider must have sufficient knowledge of your condition and history to be able to make the clinical judgement as to the need and duration of the requested leave.
V. OTHER LETTERS and FORMS
All other requests for a "Doctor's note" will be discussed as needed. These can include verification of attendance in therapy, requests for special accommodations, or any notes that may be required for work, school, or legal issues. In some cases, you will be required to complete a Release of Information Authorization form to document your authorization to break confidentiality to provide the requested information.
In most cases, the paperwork that you might need can be completed quickly and there will be no fee associated with providing it. However, there may be instances where the amount of information requested will take time to research, compile, and record. In such instances, there may be a fee for providing the information. You will be given an estimate of the time required to complete the request and the fee you will be charged before any work is done.