There are a wealth of reasons why you might need to access your medical records, or someone else’s. You might be changing doctors. You might be wondering about a health condition you have. You could be facing a personal injury lawsuit or medical malpractice suit and need your records for your case.
In all of these cases and others, you have the right to see your records. In some cases, you might have access to other people’s records as well. Learn all about getting medical records when you need them, who can access yours, whose you can access, and how the right attorney can help.
Getting Medical Records
The first thing you need to understand is that under HIPAA, the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, you always have the right to obtain copies of your personal medical records or to view the original records in your doctor’s office, with a very few exceptions. In addition, you may under certain circumstances view the medical records of someone else.
You can always view your medical records at your healthcare provider’s office, and to request that you be given copies of your records. The only exceptions to this rule are: you are not allowed to view psychotherapy notes, any information being gathered by the provider for a lawsuit, or any information the provider feels has a reasonable chance of endangering the life or safety of you or another person.
If the medical provider denies your request for records, they must inform you in a denial letter of this refusal, and you may be able to appeal the denial.
Other Peoples’ Records
You may also, in certain circumstances, access other peoples’ records. If someone dies and you are the personal representative or executor of their estate, you may request their records. If they have given you written permission while alive to serve as their representative, you may be granted access to their records. If you are the relative of a deceased person and you need these records for health-related reasons, you can access records.
Likewise, you can view the medical records of your children, or of someone for whom you act as legal guardian. The exceptions to this are if your child has received medical care for procedures that don’t require parental consent, they receive care that is issued by a court ruling, or if you have agreed that your child and their doctor have a confidential relationship.
How Long Does It Take?
Usually, when you file a request for medical records, HIPAA requires the provider to issue those records within 30 days. If there will be a delay, the provider must issue a reason for that delay. If you don’t find that delay acceptable, or your records are denied, you can challenge the agency to see your records.
What Happens If I’m Refused?
If you’re refused records for any reason, you may be able to appeal the refusal. This requires knowledgeable help from a qualified attorney. If you’re in South Carolina and are having issues getting access to your medical records, contact the attorneys at Harris and Graves for a consultation about your needs today.