Your Medical Privacy Rights

Modified on 2009/10/14 21:45 by admin

Know Your Rights

It should be known that no matter why your records could be withheld from you, by law you must be told for what reason you are being denied access. You also have the right to change your personal information if it has changed since the last time you viewed your records. Few people realize how much control they have over their medical files. The simple solution? Know Your Medical Record Rights! You have the right to request a notice from your health care provider detailing how they may use and share your health information, as well as guidelines describing your rights. Usually this notice is presented on your first visit to a provider or by mail, otherwise you may ask for a copy at any time.

As mentioned before, covered entities have the right to share your records in certain cases such as research, disease control (i.e. tracking the flu in your area), doctor/hospital evaluations, and police reports (i.e. gunshot wound statistics). You have the right to request a free document each year from your provider outlining exactly who your records were shared with.

Beware of Giving Away Too Much Information

There are times in your life when you’ll be asked by a marketing group or internet site to share your medical information. Whether it’s a survey, questionnaire, or low-cost screening in a pharmacy or mall environment, beware of the amount of personal health information you release. Remember this when asked about family medical history or any other important health information since there could be a business hiding in the background with related health products to sell. The HIPAA does not cover these marketing businesses.

Concerning health websites, read their privacy policies before entering ANY personal information. What you say online can be tracked and if the website has weak security, you could soon find your valuable information in the hands of solicitors. Beware of health forums and be sure to check exactly who has access to these pages in the privacy section of the website.

HIPAA gives you, the patient, a great deal of power over your personal health information. As mentioned before, covered entities should only release information they need to release, not your full records. It is therefore up to you to limit the amount of information they wish to release. When you are asked to sign a release form, be sure to review exactly what information will be released and never sign a “blanket waiver.” It’s your right to write more specific terms right there on the release form. Using specific terms instead of a blanket waiver can be used in almost any situation, including subpoenas. If your health records are needed for litigation or to file a claim with an insurance company, remember you have the right to dictate only the portions you wish to be released.

Filing a Complaint

If you believe your privacy has been violated or you were not given the opportunity to exercise your rights, i.e. your request for your medical records was turned down for no reason, you have the right to file a complain with both your health care provider and the U.S. Government. If you file a complaint with your health care provider, they will send you a return notice with guidelines on what to do next. To contact HIPAA directly, use the following address:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Office of Civil Rights
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C., 20201
(866) 627-7748
Or, feel free to contact a Regional Health and Human Services Office near you!
Or email:

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