Medical records services entail the preservation and accessibility of records to patients, physicians, or courts for future medical care or court litigation. Whether your practices’ records exist on paper or digital form, you are required to follow certain state and federal protocols to maintain the integrity and availability of every patient’s medical file until such time that the statutes expire. This time frame can vary from state to state.
HIPAA regulations (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), a law first enacted in 1996, sets standards for privacy of the individual’s medical information and ensures patients access to their own files. Issued by the Health and Human Services, the law was enacted to provide safeguards of an individual’s medical information from disclosure and invoke penalties for violation. Any health care provider who stores or transmits patient medical information bears responsibility for protecting the information from being compromised by unauthorized parties. When medical information is passed from the treating physician to a medical records service provider, HIPAA regulations must be followed for the duration of record maintenance.
Patients have the right to request any of the following records:
- Physician generated notes and/or records
- Diagnostic results retained by the physician including blood tests, x-rays, biopsies, etc.
- Any information provided to that physician by another physician for the purposes of providing diagnosis or treatment
Medical Record Retrieval
After a physician or medical facility closes its doors, patient medical records must continue to be available for retrieval for many different reasons. Although patients are normally informed prior to the office closure should they wish to retrieve their records at that time, often the notification goes unnoticed by patients, or they do not act if the need for access is not imminent.
Request by Patient or Healthcare Powers of Attorney: If the patient wishes to take his or her file to another physician for continuation of care, that patient can complete an authorization for release of information to request a copy of all medical records. Any individual granted powers of attorney by said patient may do the same on his or her behalf.
Request by Physician: The patient can fill out a form with any physician granting access to that physician to seek copies of all medical records.
Request by Law Firm or Insurance Company: Should a patient sue a physician or medical facility, that patient’s law firm, and the physician’s insurance company will seek access to the patient’s medical record in preparation for a settlement or court trial.
Any of the above inquiries may be granted in hard copies or transmitted digitally. When provided digitally, the requesting party can usually download the files securely through an encrypted online repository.
HarborSafe guarantees database security both while retaining records and at the time of destruction, per HIPAA protocols. We understand the responsibility of delivering medical records services safely, efficiently, and timely to all authorized parties and will ensure you can rest at ease in your retirement.