Does HIPAA affect access to an individuals medical records?
Yes. Except for a few notable exceptions, HIPAA ensures a patient's right to see their own medical records, and to petition the Covered Entity (CE) -- the doctor, hospital, insurance company, etc., to correct mistakes in the medical record. Exceptions that prevent access to medical records include (but are not limited to): * Psych notes -- they can't be shown to the patient. * Any notation that may be deemed harmful to the patient (this is VERY rare). * Any information that includes another person's Protected Health Information (PHI). * Any information that may endanger another person whose name is listed in the record. * If the patient is currently a convicted prisoner, and the CE is the incarceration facility (private incarceration facilities may or may not be included in this). * Any information that includes the name of a third party who gave information regarding the patient in confidence (the name may be redacted as a remedy). * PHI not in the CE's possession. Barring these limitations, and a few others, the patient may ask for a copy of all records in the possession of that CE (called the Designated REcord Set). While not requried by HIPAA, the CE may legally require the request to be submitted in writing, and may require a reasonable time to assemble the record (30 days or so is the usual), and may charge a Small fee intended to offset copying costs. HIPAA however is very specific about these factors not being used by the CE to prevent the patient from seeing their own records, so you won't see much if any stonewalling. If the patient spots a mistake in the record, they may request, in writing, that this be amended. The CE has the option to either effect the amendment or to decline to do so. In the late cirumstance, a disinterested and qualified thrid party may be brought in to make an objective determination if the amendment should be included in the record. In the case of contradicting State Law, the law that is "more stringent" prevails. By more stringent, HIPAA refers to a law that protects the patient's privacy more, and also to the law that grants more access to the patient of their own DRS. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/User:Cjonb 18:18, 3 Jun 2008 (UTC)