§23-4-7. Release of medical information to employer; legislative findings; effect of application for benefits; duty of employer.
(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that two of the primary objectives of the workers' compensation system established by this chapter are to provide benefits to an injured claimant promptly and to effectuate his or her return to work at the earliest possible time; that the prompt dissemination of medical information to the commission and employer as to diagnosis, treatment and recovery is essential if these two objectives are to be achieved; that claimants are increasingly burdened with the task of contacting their treating physicians to request the furnishing of detailed medical information to the commission and their employers; that the commission is increasingly burdened with the administrative responsibility of providing copies of medical reports to the employer involved, whereas in other states the employer can obtain the necessary medical information direct from the treating physician; that much litigation is occasioned in this state because of a lack of medical information having been received by the employer as to the continuing disability of a claimant; and that detailed narrative reports from the treating physician are often necessary in order for the commission, the claimant's representatives and the employer to evaluate a claim and determine whether additional or different treatment is indicated.

(b) In view of the foregoing findings, a claimant irrevocably agrees by the filing of his or her application for benefits that any physician may release to and orally discuss with the claimant's employer, or its representative, or with a representative of the commission, successor to the commission, other private carrier or self-insured employer, whichever is applicable, from time to time, the claimant's medical history and any medical reports pertaining to the occupational injury or disease and to any prior injury or disease of the portion of the claimant's body to which a medical impairment is alleged containing detailed information as to the claimant's condition, treatment, prognosis and anticipated period of disability and dates as to when the claimant will reach or has reached his or her maximum degree of improvement or will be or was released to return to work. For the exclusive purposes of this chapter, the patient-physician privilege of confidentiality is waived with regard to the physician's providing this medical information to the commission, the employer or to the employer's representative. Whenever a copy of any medical report is obtained by the employer or its representative and the physician has not also forwarded a copy of the medical report to the commission, successor to the commission, other private carrier or self-insured employer, whichever is applicable, the employer shall forward a copy of the medical report to the commission, successor to the commission, other private carrier or self-insured employer, whichever is applicable, within ten days from the date the employer received the medical report from the physician.