There are many different reasons why somebody may want to access their medical records, one of which could include being involved in a personal injury case and knowing that these records could be a key element in your case. The extent of your injuries may end up in dispute or you may need to prove that your accident caused your injuries. You have a right to obtain your medical records, but how do you go about doing so?
First, one should have a good understanding of the federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA. They give patients the right to obtain a copy of their medical records from any medical provider, though there are a few exceptions of course. Under HIPAA, you may receive the following:
- Your Medical Records: You are always entitled to your own records.
- Someone else’s records if you are a designated representative: If somebody gives you permission in writing, you are able to act as their representative and access their records. Perhaps your elderly parents would choose to designate you as their representative. In doing so, medical providers would have to adhere to your right to obtain their records if you made a request for them.
- Someone else’s records if you are their legal guardian: If you are appointed as the legal guardian of another adult, you have the legal right to get their medical records.
- Your children’s medical records: Obtaining these records has some exceptions. For the most part, though, parents and legal guardians are able to obtain their children’s medical records. A parent may not obtain them if the child has consented to medical care and parental consent is not required under state law, if the child gets medical care at the direction of a court, or if the parent agrees that the minor and the medical provider have a confidential relationship.
Attorney Involvement and Denials
Your attorney will be able to request the records if you give written permission, signed and dated. These can be faxed or sent regular mail. It is also advisable to call the medical provider to confirm receipt; however, one must remember that many medical providers will charge a fee to release the records and for postage. You may even be required to pay the fee before the records are released to you.
It is also important to note that a request for release could be denied. Patient consent is a reason for denial in almost all cases. However, if the office denies the request, a medical records subpoenamay be pursued to get you what you need.
If a provider outright refuses to give you a copy of your medical records without explanation or you don’t agree with their refusal, you could pursue a case. Some health care advocates just make it especially difficult for patients to get medical records when a lawsuit is involved. You may want to speak with a personal injury attorney to see where you stand in your case. At WTW, we will work with you to get you what you deserve!