HIPAA: Authorizing Release of Medical Records & Personal Injury

How HIPAA protects Medical Records

HIPAA and Medical Records

Confidentiality exists between you and your medical providers.  This prohibits release of medical records without proper authorization.  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, usually referred to as “HIPAA”, places certain restrictions upon and guidelines for the release of medical information.

Releasing Private Medical Records

Under the privilege protecting medical records in most circumstances only the patient may authorize release of medical records.  However, there are times when others require release of the records.  When releasing medical records is required as a condition of receiving a benefit, the choice is allowing the release of the information, or, denying the release of the records, at the risk of not getting the benefit.

  • After a car accident “PIP” or “Med pay” provisions from one’s own insurance company are available to pay medical bills.  There is a duty to cooperate with one’s own insurance company.  Specifically, application for PIP and med pay benefits requires signing of medical authorization release papers.
  • Many government benefits also require signing of a medical release authorization by the applicant.  One example is social security disability, where medical records must be released in order that the facts and background of a claimed disability be reviewed.

No Private Right of Recovery for HIPAA Violation

HIPAA does not provide a private right of recovery for violation.  Where medical information is accidentally or otherwise released without proper authorization do not count on HIPAA for a private right of recovery.  Its not there.  Those who fall victim to allegations of such violation are left to seek damages under state confidentiality regulations.

Choice Belongs to Patient

Common law medical confidentiality and HIPAA protect against release of medical records. However, the patient holds the key to release and the patient will find him or herself in positions where they will need to strongly consider signing authorizations for the release of medical records.

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About Andrew Myers

Attorney Myers is a member of the American Association For Justice, Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, New Hampshire Association For Justice, National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys & Rotary International. Legal services provided in Massachusetts (MA) and New Hampsire (NH).

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