Patients have many requests on a daily basis, but are you prepared for the request when the patient wants to access their medical record? The patient’s right to access their record was legally granted by the HIPAA Privacy Rule of 2001.
By establishing a policy in your office, you will ensure medical record access requests are handled legally. Here are some points to include in your policy to ensure a smooth transition and a consistent approach for your office staff:
- The patient can request access to their medical record per the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
- Ask the patient t0 complete the request on a PHI form.
- Verify the identity of the patient and/or personal representative.
- The provider has 30 days to reply to the request. If needed, the provider can request an additional 30 days with written notification.
- Access can be denied if the content of the medical record could possibly harm the patient.
- The office can charge fee for such request. The fees would include photocopying, postage, CD, thumb drive, medical record search and retrieval.
- Some exceptions to the rule are psychiatric notes, workers’ compensation and motor vehicle accident notes.
Don’t put your office on the chopping block by ignoring a patient’s request to access their medical records. If the patient is ignored or instantly denied, there is an online complaint portal and a toll-free number that would possibly trigger an investigation with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). If your office is found at fault for not providing the requested information, the OCR could assign penalties and the Department of Justice could enforce criminal prosecutions to the providers.
With the access of the patient portal, the near future could help alleviate some of the burdensome issues that would be connected with the medical record access requests. When and if the portal standards are expanded to reveal the entire note, access setting for each record will need to be adjusted for each patient through the electronic health record.
KRHIO can provide support if your practice needs assistance understanding HIPAA regulations or requests. Contact us for more information.
Source: AAPC Healthcare Business Monthly January, 2018 edition.