Understanding Your Rights When it Comes to Private Medical Records

What Laws Protect Your Medical Privacy?

There’s a wide range of laws and regulations surrounding your private medical records. As a result, it can feel impossible to understand every protection you have. It’s important to familiarize yourself with laws related to medical privacy. In response, you can be aware of and make decisions accordingly. A lack of understanding of these things could lead to future problems. For example, you could require the assistance of a personal injury lawyer to resolve your issue.

The legislation is intended to balance the open communication of information with the right to privacy of each patient. Continue reading to learn more about your right to private medical records.

Regulations and Healthcare Providers

It’s important to understand that most laws on medical privacy are only applicable to healthcare organizations. HIPAA, for example, is the most important piece of federal legislation in this area. This legislation provides standards for nearly everything related to health privacy—but there are only a few covered entities.

In general, the groups that qualify as covered entities include your healthcare provider, insurance provider or HMO, clearinghouse, and any business associates who handle your information for those parties. While they are legally prohibited from disclosing your records, anything you share with another company or individual is not protected under HIPAA.

Exceptions To The Healthcare Privacy Laws

Healthcare information is generally protected unless you give express consent, but there are a few exceptions you should be aware of. The consent requirement for substance abuse and mental health treatment information, for example, does not apply to medical facilities which are entirely privately funded.

Medical information can also be disclosed in a few specific cases, This includes subpoenas, disease monitoring, domestic violence, and abuse. If you have health insurance through your employer, they may be given access to health information. Although this will be separated from non-medical records.

Your Rights To Medical Privacy

In addition to the protections from information disclosure provided by HIPAA, you also have important rights to access your own information. In fact, you’re entitled to receive a notification when your information is shared.

You can access your information, request corrections or copies, and be notified in case of a breach. If your information has been disclosed for anything outside of healthcare operations and payment, you have the right to learn who has seen it.

Finally, the “part two” set of regulations goes beyond the rights elaborated under HIPAA. These generally refer to protections involved in drug and alcohol abuse treatment. As mentioned above, this only applies to alcohol and drug treatment facilities that receive federal assistance—always ask a new facility for details on your rights if you’re unsure.

Next Steps

HIPAA and other regulations give patients a wide range of rights. However, many people aren’t aware of the protections they have. These are a few of the most important details regarding your medical information privacy. Do yourself a favor and talk to your doctor or healthcare provider. Specifically, get more specific information, including any unique protections in your state.