When you’re involved in a lawsuit, your medical records can become key factors. This is particularly true in cases like personal injury suits where you have to track medical treatments and recovery, or malpractice suits where they form the basis of the whole thing. You may, however, also need to get hold of those records when you switch to a new doctor or go to see a specialist.
Many people don’t realize it, but you have every right to get copies of your records under Federal law. Learn what you need to do for obtaining medical records, what your rights are, how HIPAA plays a role, and why hiring a personal injury attorney is a good idea.
Your Rights in Getting Medical Records
The Federal Government has set out a set of laws called HIPAA, or the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act. These laws say that you have the right to obtain copies of your medical records at any time from any provider, with certain exceptions. They also deal with the maintaining of privacy and ethics in the medical profession.
Who Can Access Records?
Under HIPAA, you can always access your own records. Likewise, if you’re someone’s designated representative (they’ve given permission in writing) you can access their records. You can access records for those over whom you have legal guardianship, and you may, with some exceptions, access your children’s records.
If you’re the personal representative of an estate, you can access the records of the decedent. Finally, if a direct relative of yours dies, you may access their records if those records relate to your own health.
What Are the Exceptions?
If the doctor has determined that accessing your records would put you or someone else in undue risk of harm, they can be withheld. Likewise, psychological records may be exempt from access.
If your child has consented to medical care where the state doesn’t require parental consent, you can’t get their records for that care. Likewise, if courts order a child’s medical care you can’t access the records, and if you agree that the child has a confidential relationship with their doctor, the records aren’t yours to view.
Obtaining Medical Records
Obtaining medical records, in general, is a factor of submitting a written request to the proper provider. This request will include your name, contact information, possibly your Social Security number, the reason you need the records, and the records you want to access. From there, the provider has up to 30 days to turn the request around or issue a denial letter.
Calling an Attorney
If you are denied access to your medical records and you think your rights are being violated, your best bet is to contact a qualified attorney for help. The right attorney can cut through bureaucracy and red tape, and make the right arguments for your medical records. In New Jersey, this is the Law Offices of Peter N. Davis and Associates, LLC. If you’re in need of help with obtaining medical records, or any sort of personal injury claim, we can help.