Privacy and Security

The Privacy and Security of Your Medical Records

In 1996, Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which offers protection for personal health information, including medical records. HIPAA requirements rules establish a series of privacy and security standards for health care providers and the penalties for those who do not follow these standards.

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HIPAA addresses three basic issues

  • The privacy rule protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information.
  • The security rule sets national standards for the security of protected health information.
  • The patient safety rule protect identifiable information being used to analyze patient safety events and improve patient safety.

Medical information that can personally identify you can not be disclosed without your consent, but with some exceptions. Those providing you with medical care can always disclose your information to other parties if they believe it is required for proper medical care. Those paying for your health care or health insurance, like your employer or your insurance company, can view parts of your medical record that are relevant to making payment decisions.

Depending on your state’s law you may have a right to sue if an invasion of privacy or a breach of doctor patient confidentiality occurred.

What you need to know about your medical records

  • If you are looking to switch health insurance providers, your new provider can not access your medical records to determine your coverage or rate.
  • Your health information may be used for research, but your name cannot be released.
  • Your prescription drug information can be given to pharmaceutical companies anonymously.
  • Debt collectors can access information regarding unpaid medical bills, but not specific treatment information.
  • You and those you authorize, can be provided with a copy of your records when you perform a record request

If you think that your medical records privacy rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services.