By: Frank Golden
Throughout my years operating Golden Surrogacy, I have noticed many agencies, big and small, having surrogate applicants request their own medical records. There are so many red flags that go off in my head when contemplating these actions. This method is often chosen because it can reduce the agency’s case load and is more expedient during the on-boarding phase. However, I must caution, going this route does create the potential for fraud to occur.
I have witnessed situations where surrogate applicants will apply and send us their medical records they already have on file. In some cases, applicants have even omitted very crucial pieces of information. At Golden Surrogacy, we always conduct our due diligence and collect all medical records ourselves, even if the applicant sends us past records. If agencies collect records directly from the applicant, it is possible that their records may not be entirely accurate, and approval could be determined based on the false premise that they are healthy and capable to carry a full-term pregnancy when in fact they may not be able to do so.
The best practice to be followed is for an agency to request the medical records directly from healthcare facilities. A surrogate applicant should never have access to the records before they reach the agency or IVF clinic. Agencies and clinics need to gather the name and location of every PCP, OB/GYN, and delivery hospital the surrogate applicant has ever had. They should obtain the complete health history not just the most recent, and not only the pregnancy and delivery components. Similarly, all medical clearance forms need to be faxed directly from the OB/GYN or PCP’s office. Anyone can sign a paper and fax it from their local Kinkos. Agency staff need to be able to verify that the forms have been filled out from the actual physician. We also caution Intended Parents who are going “Indy”, aka: not retaining an agency, to never accept medical records directly from their potential surrogate. They should demand that a HIPPA release form is signed and make the fertility clinic request the records directly.
At Golden Surrogacy, we pride ourselves on conducting our due diligence to receive surrogate applicant’s medical records utilizing a proper chain of custody protocol. We even partner with our own reproductive endocrinologist (RE) who conducts a preliminary review for us prior to them being transmitted to the IVF clinic of choice. We have multiple fertility physicians review the records to make sure everything is meticulously scrutinized. Unlike some other agencies, we do not require our surrogate applicants or Intended Parents to pay for the medical record requests, as some facilities charge a per page fee. As an agency, we absorb these costs because it is a required step in conducting a complete surrogate pre-screen during the on-boarding phase.
Agencies should follow this chain of custody best practice that I have outlined above to obtain medical records, regardless of the time commitment. As an agency, we are the first step in the screening process and it is our responsibility to ensure the accuracy of medical records needed to approve or deny an applicant for becoming a surrogate. This will protect the health of the surrogate, and any resulting unborn children she may be carrying. Intended Parents need to confidently know and trust that their surrogate was medically screened with all the complete facts and can carry a healthy, full-term pregnancy.