When we go to a doctor’s office, we expect our personal medical information to be kept safe and confidential. This is a legal requirement in Colorado, as in all other states. You may recall signing a statement at some point and receiving information from your doctor about your federal HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) rights.
However, there are some exceptions about who medical records can be shared with. In addition, a patient can consent to others, such as spouses, seeing medical records, or can waive the medical record privacy in certain circumstances -- for example, as part of a medical research study. Lastly, persons with HIV/AIDS have special rights regarding their medical records that stem from the discrimination these patients sometimes face.
The table below outlines the medical record privacy laws in Colorado.
|Who Has Access to My Medical Records?||A patient or his or her designated representative with written authority has access to his or her own medical records. The only exception is for psychiatric records that would have a significant negative psychological impact, in which case patient is entitled to a summary of the visits, diagnosis, etc., but not the complete record.|
|How Do I Request My Medical Records?||You, the patient, or your authorized representative with authority over your health care matters, will have to sign a written request for your medical records. Your hospital or doctor’s office likely has a form, like this one.
Please note you may be charged a small amount per page or per request. This covers the expense of getting the records to you. If you need the records, for example for a personal injury case or for reimbursement from an employer or other source, it’ll be worth the small charge.
|What Trial Testimony Privileges Apply to Medical Records?||When a doctor, surgeon, registered nurse, psychologist, counselor, or other health care provider is called to testify in a trial, he or she cannot disclose any of a patient’s private medical information without the consent of the patient. This is called the doctor-patient privilege. Although there are a number of exceptions to this rule, the general principal holds true in most cases.|
|Mandatory Reporting Requirements||When a doctor diagnosis or treats a patient for sexually transmitted infections (STIs formerly known as STDs and venereal diseases), tuberculosis, rabies, and HIV/AIDS, the doctor must report the incident to the local or state office of the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. However, that doesn’t mean the doctor can go telling everyone in town, this is a limited exception to disclosing private medical information.
Conversely, doctors can treat youth under 18 for STIs without informing their parents or guardians.
|Patient Consent and Waiver||A patient can also consent to others seeing your medical information, for example, sharing X-rays from a car accident with your insurance agent. Again, the health clinic will need to see written documentation where you sign for the third party to be able to see your medical records.|
|Provisions Related to HIV/AIDS||Although typically confidential counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS is preferred, anonymous testing can be conducted for persons with a high risk of HIV. Procedures for notifying partners at risk for HIV/AIDS are also to be put in place by the testing facilities.|
Note: State laws are changing all the time, it’s important to verify the state law(s) you’re researching by conducting your own legal research.
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