When can Doctors Refuse to Release Your Medical Records?

There will likely be a time when you need to get copies of your medical records. Whether you are involved in a lawsuit, are seeking a second opinion, or need your medical records for another reason, you should know the rights you have when accessing these documents.

What Rights do You Have to Medical Records?

Under the federal Health Information Portability & Accountability Act (HIPPA), patients have a right to obtain copies of medical records from any healthcare provider. There are, however, a few exceptions to this right. Under HIPPA, you have the right to request and receive:

  • Your own medical records;

  • Another person’s medical records, if you are a designated representative of that person;

  • Another person’s medical records, if you are the legal guardian;

  • Your children’s medical records, with some exceptions such:

    • If the minor consented to medical care and state law does not require parental consent;

    • The minor receives medical care at the direction of a court; or

    • The parent of the minor agrees that the child and the medical provider have a confidential relationship.

  • Records of a person, under certain circumstances, who has passed away such as:

    • If you are designated by a will or appointed by a court to settle the deceased person’s affairs;

    • If you are related to the deceased person and specific information in the deceased person’s medical file relates to your own health.

What Medical Records can You Get?

HIPPA provides patients with the right to receive copies of all of their medical records as well as the right to view their original medical records. This usually happens at the medical provider’s office. While HIPPA gives patients the right to request their own records and those of others (when the request falls under the above mentioned categories), the rights to receipt of records is not carte blanche. This federal law does, however, allow healthcare providers to refuse to provide certain types of medical records being requested, including:

  • Psychotherapy notes;

  • Medical information the healthcare provider is obtaining and compiling for litigation; and

  • Medical information that the healthcare provider believes could reasonably endanger your physical safety, your life, or the physical safety of another.

What if You are Refused the Medical Records?

Healthcare providers are required to provide copies of medical records within 30 days of the request, according to HIPPA. If it will take the healthcare provider more than this time to meet the request, then it must provide a reason for the delay. Typically, if a healthcare provider denies a HIPPA request for medical records, the provider must provide the requestor with a denial letter. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to appeal the denial of the medical records request.

Federal and state laws governing medical records can be complex. For this reason, you should consult with a Nevada attorney near you to learn about your rights regarding medical records you are seeking. The skilled attorneys at Parry & Pfau can answer questions you may have regarding this area of the law. Click here today to schedule a consultation.

(image courtesy of Nino Liverani)