Medical records contain important personal information such as a patient’s medical history and treatment. Under Pennsylvania law, your health care provider owns your medical records. However, both federal and state law empower Pennsylvania residents with certain rights related to medical records.
If you’ve been to a doctor’s office in the past few decades, you are likely familiar with The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This federal law gives Americans the right to receive and amend medical records, while also granting specific rights regarding confidentiality and access. Most Pennsylvania health care providers must abide by the regulations of both HIPAA and state laws.
HIPAA sets national standards granting patients the right to see, copy, and amend their personal health information, as well as the privacy of this information. While the HIPAA Privacy Rule does not apply to a patient’s employer, it applies to:
The following is a summary of rights related to an individual’s medical records:
*The right to view and obtain a copy of a medical record.
A health care provider must make reasonable accommodations for individuals to view their medical records or provide copies of these medical records within 30 days of receipt of a written request.
*The right to amend a medical record by adding information.
Individuals may request to have information added to their medical records for the purpose of making them more complete or accurate. A provider must consider and respond within 30 days of receipt of a written request.
Anyone designated as an agent by a health care power of attorney that meets HIPAA standards typically has the right to obtain and amend those medical records that are pertinent to making health care decisions on the principal’s behalf.
*The right to request a report about the entities with whom a provider has shared medical information.
*The right to request that a medical record is NOT shared with certain third parties.
*The right to file a complaint.
Anyone may file a complaint if denied access or the opportunity to amend a medical record. You may file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or with the Pennsylvania Department of State.
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