Your medical records are the core of your life. They tell almost everything about you, and there are a lot of circumstances where you might need to look at them. It could be something very basic like you’re changing doctors or seeing a new specialist and you need to transfer copies. It could be more complex like a personal injury case or even a medical malpractice case.
Whatever the reason, you have the rights to view and access your medical records in most circumstances. Learn your rights and how the law works when it comes to obtaining copies of your medical records, and when you might need an attorney’s help.
HIPAA and Your Medical Records
HIPAA stands for the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act. It’s a set of federal laws that govern how privacy and ethics work in terms of medical information. This act gives you the right to view your original medical records in the doctor’s office, or to obtain copies of your medical records, in most cases. There are, however, a few notable exceptions.
Viewing Medical Information
You may have access to your own medical records. You may access the records of someone for whom you are a designated representative with written permission. You can view the records of someone over whom you’ve been awarded legal guardianship. You can view the records of a deceased person if you are the executor of the estate, or if they were a relative and your health depends on their records.
You may, finally, access the medical records of your children, with certain notable exceptions.
When You May Be Denied Access
You may be denied access to your own records if the doctor has a reason to believe that allowing you to see them would put you in danger, or put someone else at risk. Likewise, you may be denied access to your records if they consist of psychotherapy notes.
You might be denied your children’s records in three circumstances: first, if your child has consented to medical care that doesn’t require your permission; second, if the courts order or grant medical care; and finally, if you have agreed that your child and the healthcare provider have a relationship that is confidential.
How to View Medical Records
To access your medical information, you’ll need to submit a written request, including your contact information and name, the records you’re requesting, and why. Sometimes you might be asked for your social security number. When you’ve submitted this request, the provider has 30 days to provide the records or issue a reason for denial.
You may go to the doctor’s office to view your original records directly, or you may request to be given a copy of the records for your own use. You may also request both.
There are plenty of reasons why a provider might refuse access to your records, and not all are legal. If you issue a request and are denied, you may be able to fight the denial with help from a qualified attorney like Robert White or Greta Braker. If you need help in this area, contact our law offices today.