One of the most important jobs of a health care provider is to keep accurate and complete medical records for the safety of each patient. In order to get the best medical care, a patient has to trust doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and labs with private and personal information.
You assume that the information is safe and secure, but do you know what the laws are concerning the sharing of your personal health information? And do you know what your rights are as it relates to accessing your medical records?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule gives all U.S. citizens the right to see and obtain a copy of their health records. Under this federal law you also have the right to not only access the information but to also make corrections as needed or file a complaint. In Louisiana, you also have the right to sue if you feel your rights have been violated as it relates to obtaining your medical records. Here’s a brief overview of medical records laws in Louisiana.
Louisiana’s Medical Records Laws Give You Unique Rights
While an important component of the HIPAA Privacy Rule is that a patient’s medical records are kept confidential, health care providers may share information when the facilitation of the details are essential for your treatment. However, Louisiana’s medical records laws give you unique rights to:
- Access Your Medical Record: You have the right to see and get a copy of your medical record within 15 days of your initial request. The health care provider has a right to charge you for copying the record and/or the cost of postage to mail it to you.
- Amend Your Record: You also have the right to correct your medical record by adding information to it to make it more complete or accurate. In certain cases, your provider can deny your request to amend your record. If this happens, you have the right to add your own short statement to your medical record.
- File a Complaint: If you believe that a health care provider has violated your right to see, get a copy of, or amend your medical record, you have the right to file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can also file a complaint with the state agency that regulates your health care provider.
- Sue for Violation of Your Rights: Under Louisiana law, you have the right to sue in state court for violations of your rights and to obtain your medical record.
How to Request a Copy of Your Medical Records
If you’d like to request a copy of your medical records, the Louisiana Department of Health has a procedure for a public records request. In addition, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created a free guide to walk people through the process of getting your health records.
You’ll learn how to submit a request, make corrections and manage your health information. Most health care providers have online patient portals where you can access your records but if they don’t, you can fill out a form or request the records by phone or email. These are the most frequently asked questions about requesting access to your medical records:
- Q: Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule protect both my right to see health records and keep my information confidential?
A: Yes! HIPAA protects the privacy of your health information and your right to see and get your health record.
- Q: Can I request my medical records in any kind of format?
A: Yes! According to federal law, your provider is required to provide you with a paper, electronic or other media copy of your health record.
- Q: If I haven’t paid my health care bill, can I still have access to my medical records?
A: Federal law says you are entitled to see and get your health record, even if you haven’t paid your health care bills.
- Q: Is access to my medical records only for me to see?
A: Nope! You can share your health record with anyone you want, but before you share, consider taking steps to keep the information secure.
- Q: Can my health care provider deny my request?
A: Yes, only for a few reasons. Louisiana law says that a doctor can refuse a request if he or she determines that letting you see your record might physically endanger you or another person, they can deny your request.
They must tell you in writing if they deny your request for your medical record. The explanation must include why your request was denied, if you have a right to have their decision reviewed and how you can file a complaint. This information must be provided to you within 30 days of your initial request.
Confused by Your Medical Records Rights? We Can Help.The laws surrounding medical records in Louisiana can be complicated. If you need help understanding your rights under the law and wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, contact us today.