Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)was issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services. This federal law consists of national standards to protect sensitive patient’s health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent. Sometimes for many reasons such as: patients moving to different localities and wanting care from different physicians with the help of their records, changing doctors, involvement in litigation or retirement of the current healthcare provider, patients would want their complete medical records. According to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, patients or their representatives can get access to medical records such as billing information, medical test results, doctor’s notes, lab reports and more.

Medical records can also be kept to spot errors, know your treatments and care, ask for help, prevention from spending money in the wrong areas such as unnecessary lab reports, extra expenses spent on billings, or know when you are being charged for something you didn’t take such as drugs, procedures etc. Medical Health records also keeps you updated on your current medications, immunizations, allergies and insurance status. Patients have the right to ask for their records according to HIPAA. Other people can also inquire for information on a patient’s behalf. They can include a parent, legal guardian, patient advocate or patient caregiver with the patient’s written permission. Some hospitals will have special forms for patients to fill in and grant lawmakers permission to access medical records on their behalf.   

How to get your medical records:

Some hospitals and providers have a common mechanism for obtaining records in each state. It usually starts with a written or in-person order. Ordinarily, after signing a release for the documents, one will actually have to contact the health care company to ask for a copy of the record to pick it up. If they want them to be mailed or retrieved from a doctor, they will be asked to first sign a medical consent release form. Obtaining medical records in person helps a patient to make sure they obtain the exact documents they want. This way you are much more likely to get a fuller and faster response.

If you have had surgery requiring implants, such as knee replacement surgery or hernia surgery, the surgical notes should have information about the implant ‘s model and brand. This is important information to recall, or to file a lawsuit for a defective product. Each state has laws for how long the records must be kept. Most states will keep records from 5 to 10 years in any place. Bring an ID, if you are in person. You will need to sign an authorization form if you send it to another person or party and personal representatives need attorney powers. Electronic copies may be available as DVDs, CDs, USB flash drives or secure emails, and patients may request one of those formats.

HIPAA helps a patient to access almost all documents, with a few exceptions like:

  • Notes on psychotherapy and other mental health reports which can cause patient harm.
  • ER records which are hospital or company specific and not patient care.
  • Data related to a case.
  • Records that contain information about other individuals or a third party who could be affected by the records being published.
  • Research that is ongoing and remains unfinished.
  • Any documents which could jeopardise patient safety.

Providers have 30 to 60 days to process an application, anywhere. But there are several facilities that can provide records within 5 to 10 days. Under HIPAA law, a provider may not charge you for the search or record retrieval job. They can’t refuse you a copy of your documents, if you haven’t paid for provided services. But for the copies, they will charge you a nominal fee. Patients can also easily fix the errors in their reports by calling the healthcare provider and asking them to change it.