The Ins and Outs of Obtaining Your Medical Records

Posted by Anapol Weiss on Mar 10, 2016 3:31:00 PM

The Privacy Rule under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that gives patients the right to receive, inspect and review a copy of their medical information held by health plans and health care providers. Below are answers to a few questions about a patient’s right to see his or her medical records.

What information is protected?

The Privacy Rule protects information that doctors, nurses, and other health care providers put in a patient’s medical record, as well as conversations a doctor has about a patient’s care or treatment with nurses and others. Further, the law protects billing information, patient information kept by health insurers, and most other patient health information held by those who must follow these laws.

Can I permit other people to see my records?

Patients can allow a “personal representative” to inspect and receive a copy of their protected health information. Individual state law may determine how a personal representative can be named. For example, a person who can make health care decisions for a patient using a health care power of attorney is the patient’s personal representative, according to HIPAA. In the case of minors, the parent or legal guardian is typically the personal representative. When a patient has passed away, his or her personal representative is the executor or administrator of the deceased individual’s estate or the person legally authorized by a court or state law to act on the behalf of the deceased individual or his or her estate.  

Can my health care provider discuss my health information with those involved in my care if I am unconscious or unable to do so?

If you are unable to give permission, your health care provider may use his or her professional judgment and discuss your health information with family, friends or others involved in your care if the provider believes it is in your best interest. Your health care provider may only share the information the person needs to know about your care or payment for your care.


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Being Your Own Medical Advocate

Patients play an important role in their medical care. A previous post outlined ways patients can be their own health advocate, including:

  • Speaking up to ask for clarification or further explanation
  • Preparing for an appointment with a list of issues and/or questions to discuss
  • Reviewing medical bills for errors
  • Bringing another person to important appointments to ensure all pertinent information in understood
  • Getting a second opinion on a diagnosis, testing or treatment

Patients should always feel comfortable acting as their own advocates to ensure they are receiving the best medical care possible. In turn, physicians, nurses and other medical professionals are expected to provide them with the highest quality of care.

Contact our medical malpractice attorneys for assistance if you are a victim of medical negligence. We can investigate your situation and answer your questions.


Topics: Medical Malpractice, Medical Negligence, Health Advocacy

5 Ways to be Your Own Health Advocate

Posted by Anapol Weiss on Dec 21, 2015 3:33:00 PM

your_own_medical_advocate.jpgFor a long while, most doctor-patient relationships were one-sided: doctors talked and patients listened. Most patients saw their doctors as authority figures that shouldn’t be questioned. But those views are changing and patients are beginning to understand that they play an important role in their medical care. In fact, research shows that patients who are active participants in their healthcare have greater medical literacy, better treatment adherence and better health outcomes.

Here are five ways patients can be their own health advocate:

1.  Don’t be afraid to speak up. Although doctors should use language that’s easy for patients to understand, that’s not always the case. As such, the onus is on the patient to ask for clarification if he or she doesn’t understand something. If a patient doesn’t ask for further explanation, doctors will only assume he or she was heard and understood.

2.  Be prepared. Patients don’t usually get a lot of time with a provider so they should use that time wisely. Patients should jot down a list of issues they want to discuss or questions they have and bring the list with them. The list will help guide a patient’s visit and ensure that all his or her health concerns are addressed.

3.  Review medical bills for errors. According to Medical Recovery Services, an estimated 8 in 10 hospital bills contain numerous overcharges. Patients should look at bills with a sharp eye. Common mistakes include duplicate charges, wrong quantities of medications or items and being charged for canceled tests or procedures.

4.  Have backup. Patients should bring a second set of eyes and ears with them to important appointments. There is a lot of information shared and details may be missed. Having another person there to listen and take notes helps patients get all the pertinent information.

5.  Get a second opinion. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality says one in 20 Americans is a victim of outpatient diagnostic errors. Double-checking results with another doctor should be considered, especially if a patient is uncomfortable with a diagnosis. Getting additional input from other providers about testing, diagnosis or treatment can help patients make the most educated decision about their health.

Patients shouldn’t feel intimated by medical providers. Rather, they must be comfortable voicing their concerns and acting as their own advocate. Patients have a right to expect the highest quality of medical care at all times; any thing less than that is unacceptable. Those who have concerns about their medical care or believe they are the victim of negligence should contact us. The medical malpractice attorneys at Anapol Weiss have a track record of success when it comes to advocating for patients.

Topics: Medical Malpractice, Medical Negligence, Health Advocacy

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