Medical Records (Privacy)
From Consumer Wiki
The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, affiliated with the Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN), advocates for consumers' interests and provides a wide variety of fact sheets for educating the public. The following information about privacy rights for medical records may be found in Fact Sheet.
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
3100 - 5th Avenue, Suite B
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 298-5681 Fax
E-mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT DO MY MEDICAL RECORDS CONTAIN?
Medical records are created when you receive treatment from a health professional such as a physician, nurse, dentist, chiropractor or psychiatrist. Records may include your medical history, details about your lifestyle (such as smoking or involvement in high risk sports), and family medical history. In addition, your records contain laboratory test results and other reports which detail the results of operations and other medical procedures.
WHO HAS ACCESS TO MY MEDICAL RECORDS?
Access to your records is obtained when you agree to let others see them. When you sign "blanket waivers" or "general consent forms" you allow the health care provider to release your medical information to government agencies, insurance companies, employers and others.
Request your medical records to verify claims made through Medicare, Medi-Cal, Social Security Disability, and Workers' Compensation.
Require you to release your records before they will issue a policy or make payment under an existing policy. Medical information gathered by one insurance company may be shared with others through the Medical Information Bureau (MIB).
Medical Information Bureau:
A central database of medical information. Approximately 15 million Americans and Canadians are on file in the MIB's computers. Over 750 insurance firms use the services of the MIB primarily to obtain information about life insurance policy applicants. A decision on whether to insure clients is not supposed to be based solely on the MIB report. The MIB does not have a file on everyone. If a consumer's medical information is on file, consumers can check it to be sure it is correct. There is a charge of $9.00 for each request for a Record Search and Disclosure.
Medical Information Bureau
PO Box 105
Boston, MA 02112
(781) 329-3379 Fax
Usually obtain medical information about their employees by asking employees to authorize disclosure of medical records. While your employer may gain access to your medical records, you do have some privacy protection under state and federal law. Employers must establish procedures to keep employee medical records confidential (California Civil Code section 56).
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):
Violations of these laws should be brought to the attention of this agency. The EEOC's phone number is listed in the United States Government section in the white pages of the phone book.
Medical information may be passed on to direct marketers when you participate in informal health screenings. Screenings are often conducted at pharmacies, health fairs, shopping malls or other non medical settings. The information collected may end up in the data banks of businesses that have products to sell related to the test.
IS THERE ANY WAY TO PROTECT THE PRIVACY OF MY MEDICAL RECORDS?
When you are asked to sign a waiver for the release of your medical records, try to limit the amount of information released. Instead of signing the blanket waiver, cross it out and write in more specific terms.
Keeping a specific condition in confidence:
If you want a specific condition to be held in confidence by your personal physician, bring a written request to the appointment that revokes your consent to release medical information to the insurance company and/or to your employer for that visit; you must also pay for the visit yourself rather than obtain reimbursement from the insurance company. To be especially certain of confidentiality, you may need to see a different physician altogether and pay the bill yourself, forgoing reimbursement from the insurance company.
HOW DO I GET ACCESS TO MY OWN MEDICAL RECORDS?
In California, health care providers must allow a patient (or his or her representative) to inspect all medical records within five days of a written request or provide a copy within 15 days of a written request. This includes doctors' offices, hospitals, mental health facilities and clinics. The health care provider can charge up to 25 cents per page to photocopy your medical record and to 50 cents per page copy microfilm. The legal code that authorizes patient access to medical records is California Health and Safety Code, Section 123100. If you received care in a federal medical facility, you have a right to obtain your records under the federal Privacy Act of 1974 (5 USC Section 552a).
Department of Consumer Affairs
Medical Board of California
Central Complaints Unit
1426 Howe Avenue, Suite #54
Sacramento, CA 95825
Complaints against a provider over improper release of medical information or you are having trouble getting copies of your medical records, contact your local county medical society for assistance, or call the Medical Board of California.