How Medical Professionals Should Handle a Request for a Patient’s Records

Why A Patient Might Request Their Medical Records

Medical records are important documents detailing a patient’s health history. There are times when a patient might want a copy of their medical records. Some of the most common reasons why a patient might request their medical records includes:

  • The patient is moving to a new state
  • The patient has an appointment with a specialist
  • The patient is having problems with the current doctor

A ‘personal representative’ might also ask for medical records on the patient’s behalf. Personal representatives are people who have the legal authority to make health care decisions on behalf of the patient. Situations where a personal representative may request medical records on another’s behalf include when:

  • The patient is a minor child and the person requesting the medical records is a parent or guardian
  • The patient is an adult but has someone else making healthcare decisions for them
  • The patient has died and the person requesting the medical records has legal authority to act on his or her behalf

If you are a medical professional, and your patient is asking for records, then it is important that you follow the appropriate privacy laws or you could face license sanction from the state medical board. If you violate HIPAA as a medical professional, then you can face fines starting at $100 and can be as high as $25,000.

The Importance of Following HIPAA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that was passed to create national standards regarding the disclosure of private medical records without the patient’s consent or knowledge. A patient’s health information must be properly safeguarded by covered entities such as:

  • Healthcare providers:
  • Health Plans
  • Healthcare clearinghouses
  • Business associates

HIPAA does not require that a patient’s request for his or her medical records be in writing. A patient can ask for their medical records verbally, in writing, or through electronic means under HIPAA. It is good practice, however, to require a specific procedure to be followed when a patient’s medical records might be disclosed in violation of HIPAA. A patient is entitled to see their own medical records, but it is important that you verify the identity of the requestor, so you don’t find yourself facing a HIPAA violation unintentionally. If you have legal questions, then it is important that you seek the advice of an experienced professional license defense attorney immediately. 

SJ Harris Law Free Consultation

The S.J. Harris Law Office is proud to offer FREE 30-minute consultations to all prospective clients. We realize that medical professionals who are facing discipline against their professional licenses desire representation that affords them the proper discretion and privacy. Anything discussed during a consultation will be protected by the attorney-client privilege even if you don’t hire us to represent you further. At S.J. Harris Law, we put our focus into preserving three things; your license, your reputation, and your future. Let our experience go to work for you today. Call us at (310) 361-8585 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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When dealing with these complex issues, you need legal representation that has a long track record of success in these types of cases. Scott Harris and the rest of our team at S J Harris Law will be ready to help you pursue any option available that allows you to keep your license and continue working, no matter what industry you are in.


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