never designed to keep the patient from their own medical
By guest writer, Beth Fillman
HIPAA stands for
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (See
The Act or Acts, since there are pieces to it, actually has to
do with sharing information with other than the patient. It was never designed to keep the patient from their own
Any patient has the right to
any and all of their own medical information. The only time you
might be asked to sign for that information is if an entire file
is being transferred, or you request that it be sent to someone
other than yourself. The Acts were designed to make sure that
only those individuals or institutions or companies you
authorize can get information about you.
It also means that you
are entitled to take your records to a different doctor, or have
How 'sending' is handled may
depend on the individual doctors office or hospital policy, i.e.
charging for copies, or express mail etc.
You probably will have to
ask for a copy, but you are entitled to it.
If tests are sent out and will take time, you can ask to have
the results sent to you when they're available.
In NY state, the state law
still requires that the patient speak to the doctor about any
results before they're released to the patient. (Other
states may be different and those where electronic recording or
private web access, password protected accounts are available,
immediate access if usually available.)
… But after that, they can be
faxed, emailed or handed to you, depending on the policy of the
office you're dealing with. There should be no charge for
your copy of your own records.
Copies sent to others
must be with YOUR approval, usually in writing and there may be
a charge for copying or mailing. HIPAA requires that you
authorize any office to send to sources other than you.
I would also recommend that if and when you have an radiology
studies done that you ask for a copy of the study on a disk to
keep for future sharing. File and keep all your records will
make new doctors and second opinions easier.
… Charting your blood work
is a good idea, as is keeping a one or two page general
medical history for any new doctors you may see.
One line entries of date,
what it was, the diagnosis and resolution will help any new
doctor get a snapshot of who you are quickly.