There has been a lot of discussion lately about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). This law provides much needed protection for all of your personal health information. This federal law sets rules for healthcare providers and health insurance companies about who can look at and receive your health information. As a result, you have rights over your health information, including the right to get a copy of your records. This allows you to make sure that your medical history is accurately documented. It also allows you to know who has seen it.
The HIPAA law allows you to obtain a copy of your records. You have to put your request in writing and pay for the cost of copying and mailing. In most cases, your copies must be given to you within 30 days. You can ask to change any inaccurate information, or add additional information to your file if you think something is missing or incomplete. In most cases, the file should be updated within 60 days.
Be aware that your health information can be shared for specific reasons not directly related to your care, as required by state or federal law. For example, healthcare professionals may have a duty to report incidents of influenza in their geographical area, or hospitals reporting safety and compliance findings. Still, you have the right to know where your health information has been disseminated. In general, the law prohibits your health information from being used for purposes not directly related to your care without your permission. Healthcare providers cannot give any medical information to your employer, or share it for things like marketing and advertising, without your written authorization.
If you are a plaintiff in a personal injury action and are seeking to be compensated for your injuries, your attorney will need to obtain your medical records. Not only that, the party against whom you are making a claim against has every right to obtain those records as well. Your attorney will ask you to sign a form called an Authorization For Release of Health Information Pursuant To HIPA. By signing that form, you are agreeing to release your medical records to the person or entity indicated on the authorization form. If there is any healthcare information that you do not wish to share, you must discuss that issue with your lawyer before you sign it. Be sure to work with an experienced attorney such as the Personal Injury Lawyer New York, NY locals trust.
Recipients of your healthcare information through this authorization, have duties, responsibilities and obligations not to disclose your healthcare information (as well as any other personal information) to anyone other than the authorized party. As the client, you have every right to ask your attorney for the identity of every party in your case that is authorized to have your records. You should request copies of every HIPAA authorization that you sign. Protection of your privacy is important, so be aware of your rights. Make sure to have this discussion with your attorney at the outset of your case, in order to avoid any confusion or inadvertent disclosure of your health information. If you think your rights are being denied or your health information is not being protected, you have the right to file a complaint with your provider, health insurer, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
A special thanks to our partners at Okun Oddo and Babat P.C. for their insight into Personal Injury Law.