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Support >  Your Test Results and HIPAA - rules and tips

Last update: 06/13/2013

HIPAA was never designed to keep the patient from their own medical records
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 medical records.
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 them sent.
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.


Disclaimer:  The information on is not intended to be a substitute for 
professional medical advice or to replace your relationship with a physician.
For all medical concerns, you should always consult your doctor. 
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