Getting the Record Straight – Information is King

You know you want it. Maybe more than you’ve ever wanted anything before.

So go for it. March right in there and demand……your medical records.

Turns out that our old friend, HIPAA, requires doctors and medical facilities to give you your medical records.

Your initial history and physical examination, consultation reports from specialists, operation reports, current medication list, discharge summary, even test results from MRIs and CAT scans – all are yours for the asking.

You simply have to fill out and sign an authorization and request form and submit it to the right office person – usually the information management office of the facility or group practice, or the front office personnel of the doctor’s office. Most offices will accept a mailed or in-person submission, and some will even accept a faxed or electronic transmission. If the office does not have a prepared form, then write out your request and state that it is being made pursuant to the Privacy Rule of the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

After receipt of the request, the provider has 30 days to fulfill your request. That’s federal law.

Who can request the records? You (as the patient) and your designated agent. People who do not automatically have access to your medical records: step-parents, grandparents, your spouse and your adult children and grandchildren.

There are a few exceptions to what a health provider is obligated to release. It does not have to release psychotherapy notes or any information that it reasonably believes will pose a danger to you or another person.

Be forewarned: just because you can get a record does not necessarily mean that you should. If you just endured a two- month hospital stay, then your medical record could run well over a thousand pages. Few people need that much information. So you should be specific in your request.

Not all of the records are available for free. A facility is entitled to charge a reasonable fee for copying and mailing your records (but cannot charge “per page” if your records are stored electronically). Ask about the cost before you make the request. Most hospitals have a standard packet that includes medications and discharge instructions that is provided for free.

You should be able to get your records in any format that you request. Provided the facility can physically fulfill your request, you can have the records mailed, emailed or faxed.

Aside from just wanting to personally preserve your information, there is another very good reason for you to request medical records: to correct errors. You don’t want an incorrect listing of an allergy or a medication to haunt you for the rest your life. You have the right to request an amendment to a medical record if you find an inaccuracy. Even if the medical provider does not make the change, your request becomes part of the medical record.

For more information, visit the government website at www.hhs.gov/hipaa/

You asked for it. You got it.

Hammerle Finley Law Firm. Give us a call. We can help.

Want to receive our monthly email newsletter or book one of our attorneys for a speaking engagement? Email LegalTalkTexas@Hammerle.com and let us know how we can help.

The information contained in this article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice.

Join us for the panel discussion: “How to Take Care of Old People without Losing Your Marbles”

Virginia will be part of a panel discussion with Dr. Jill Studley and authors Suzanne Blankship and Nadine Cornish on How to Survive Eldercare with a Few Marbles Left! At The Wild Detectives Bookstore on Feb. 20 at 7:30 pm.

Join us for a lively discussion about how to survive eldercare with a few marbles left! Our panel of eldercare experts will discuss how to stay ahead of the next elder emergency, how to keep your sanity as a caregiver and how to help your elder prepare for their years ahead.

Our all-star panel features:

  • Suzanne Asaff Blankenship, author of How To Take Care of Old People Without Losing Your Marbles and moderator of the panel
  • Virginia Hammerle, attorney specializing in elder law at Hammerle Finley Law Firm, and writer of Dallas Morning News’ Legal Talk Texas, a weekly column in the Senior Section
  • Jill Studley, MD, doctor of geriatric medicine, Highland Springs Medical Center and a multi-year D Magazine Top Doc
  • Nadine Roberts Cornish, author of Tears In My Gumbo – The Caregiver’s Recipe for Resilience and founder of The Caregiver’s Guardian

Having the responsibility for the care of aging parents and relatives can be overwhelming and frustrating. Our panelists offer tips, ideas and guidance that will leave you with more time, money and marbles.

  • Carving out time from your list of life’s responsibilities to add care for your elder can be stressful. How do you avoid being stretched in too many directions?
  • How do you plan now so that, when the emergency happens, you and your elder are prepared? What paperwork is needed, and who should be involved?
  • When do you start participating in your elder’s medical care choices? What is the best way to be involved while maintaining your elder’s independence in their medical decisions?
  • How do you keep your own stress levels manageable through the ups and downs of the journey?

Come hear our experts’ guidance on issues related to these questions and more.

Tuesday, February 20 from 7:30 PM – 8:30 PM at:

The Wild Detectives Bookstore
314 W Eighth Street
Dallas, TX 75208
T: 214-942-0108

RSVP to the event on Facebook: Click Here to RSVP