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The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) is one of my favorite sources for accurate information on the rules about our rights to access our medical records. Their wizard Deven McGraw is widely recognized as one of the best authorities anywhere on HIPAA – the 1996 law and regulations that established in 2000 that you and I are entitled to copies of our records – even if a provider wrongly says “That’s not our policy.” People who say that are misinformed, sometimes by their own management.

Today a Twitter exchange with SPM member @KatherineKLeon led to Deven (@HealthPrivacy) tweeting these resources:

  • Getting Your Medical Records – CDT’s FAQ page about your rights
    • This is a fabulous resource! Why have I never known about this? Tell friends!
    • “Patients have a legal right to obtain and correct medical records about themselves, but many patients have reported difficulty in doing so. While health information technology can make it easier for patients to access and correct their data, patients still need to know the steps to take to obtain copies of their health records, what to do if a provider or plan refuses a request to obtain or correct a record, and how patients should protect their health records once they have them. The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) is releasing this Frequently Asked Questions page as a basic resource to help patients exercise their rights and protect their data.”
  • Lamb Law Office’s Medical Records Copying Charges [URL updated Augut 2016]
    • “This web page lists the various state statutes that control the amount of money doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers can charge a patient for copies of their medical records …”  Concise summary of each state’s rules
    • “Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) a covered entity can only charge “reasonable” cost-based fees for providing the medical records to patients. See 45 CFR 164.524(c). Arguably, fees that are not cost-based, even if permitted by a state statute, may be contrary to the HIPAA regulation and therefore preempted by this federal regulation.
  • Georgetown University’s Center on Medical Record Rights & Privacy
    • “A federal law called the HIPAA Privacy Rule gives you the right to see, get a copy of and amend (correct) your medical record by adding information to it.”
    • The right sidebar lists the states, with articles about each state’s rules, online or downloadable PDF

Update Saturday night: Additions from SPM member Trisha Torrey, from her site:

p.s. A historical note – it’s far less detailed, but in 2010 we posted Teaching HIPAA With a Seinfeld Episode, in which Elaine recruits Kramer to steal a copy of her records. Steal? Yes, it aired in October 1996, just after the HIPAA law was passed, but before the regulations gave us access rights.


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