Misinterpretation of HIPAA may affect your care and access to your medical records

Top Secret Medical records

HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. There are two sections.

  • Section 1 is to ensure individuals would be able to maintain their health insurance between jobs.
  • Section 2 is the “Accountability “section.  It’s purpose is to maintain the security and confidentiality of patient information/data.

At times, the second section has been misinterpreted resulting in physicians and medical centers withholding information..

A U.S. Government Accountability Office review found that health care providers were “uncertain about their legal privacy responsibilities and often responded with an overly guarded approach to disclosing information than necessary to ensure compliance with the Privacy rule”.

This may affect your medical care. For example, you have an emergency visit to the hospital. The next day you are seeing a new doctor; their office calls the hospital to get information about your tests and treatment – they are told they must have you sign a release first. It takes 2 days to fax the needed information. This delay may be dangerous in certain situations.

Knowledge is power –so know your rights.

  • Under the law, patients have access to their own records and can request and obtain copies.
  • Most others may not have access unless you approve their request.

Who can access your health information without a formal consent?

  • Healthcare providers or facilities to facilitate treatment, payment, or health care operations.
  • Law enforcement purposes as required by law or to identify or locate a suspect, fugitive, material witness, or missing person.

How long do your records stay confidential?

Your favorite deceased celebrity was rumored to have dementia? Can that information be made public?

Yes, if you wait 50 years – confidentiality extends to 50 years after death.


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