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New Mexico Medical Records Laws

Almost everyone has seen a health care provider at some point. Most of us don’t want those who provide our medical care to share the confidential information they learn from that position with anyone else. To ensure that everyone’s medical records are kept confidential, state and federal laws have been developed.

One of the most well known is the federal HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) law. You’ve probably had to signing a statement at some point saying you received HIPAA information from your doctor or dentist.

Patient Waiver and Consent to Share Medical Records

Although doctors usually can’t share medical records with anyone, patients can give written consent to others, such as spouses or lawyers, to see their records or only part of their records, such as when participating in a medical research study. Lastly, individuals living with HIV/AIDS have special rights regarding their medical records that stem from the discrimination these patients, unfortunately, sometimes face.

The following table explains more about the primary medical record privacy laws in New Mexico.

Code Sections New Mexico Statutes Sections:
  • 24-1-7: Reporting STD Cases
  • 24-1-20: (Public Health) Records Confidential
  • 24-2B: HIV Tests Act
  • 28-17-13: Access to Records of Patients, Residents, or Clients
  • 43-1-19: Disclosure of (Mental Health or Developmental Disability) Information
  • 52-10-1: Release of Medical Records

New Mexico Rules of Evidence 11-504: Physician-Patient and Psychotherapist-Patient Privilege

Who Has Access to Records? Generally, only the patient and the health care provider (including admin staff, trainees, etc.) have access to medical records. Exceptions apply, however, and who else has access varies by the types of medical records:
  • Long-term care ombudspersons have access to their nursing home resident and other clients’ medical and non-medical records to do their jobs and conduct investigations
  • Confidential mental health and developmental disability information or records can be disclosed without patient authorization if necessary to protect against a “clear and substantial risk of imminent serious physical injury or death” by the patient to himself or herself or anyone else.
  • In a worker’s compensation case, the employer, the employer’s insurer, or an appropriate review organization can also view the employee’s medical records that are related to the injury sustained at work
What Legal Privileges Apply to Medical Records? A legal privilege prevents a person from testifying or sharing confidential information with others for a lawsuit or criminal case, without the holder of the privilege’s permission. Exceptions apply, but New Mexico courts recognize both a physician-patient and psychologist-patient privilege. Therefore, a patient may be able to prevent medical records from being brought into court, but general not if the injury is related to a main part of the case, such as in a car accident case or if it’s a proceeding to hospitalize a mentally ill person.
Mandatory Reporting Requirements When a doctor diagnoses or treats a patient for a sexually transmitted disease (STD or STI) he must report it to the local public health department.
Provisions Related to HIV/AIDS Individuals can get confidential HIV tests in New Mexico and the results are confidential. If a person does test positive for HIV/AIDS, then he or she must be given information about social services and mental health resources and the benefits of discussing the results with people who may have been exposed to HIV from him or her.
Penalties for Unauthorized Disclosure of Public Health Records A person who violates the confidentiality of public health records has committed a petty misdemeanor that can be fined up to $100 and be sentenced up to six months in jail. Each day of a continuing violation is a separate offense.

A person who makes an unauthorized disclosure of STD or HIV test results is guilty of a petty misdemeanor and can be fined up to $500 and go to jail for up to six months.

If your medical records were disclosed without your permission, you should contact the health care provider who shared them to request the records be returned and whoever received the records destroy them. You might also want to speak to an experienced local health care lawyer about your legal options.

Note: State and federal laws, in the medical field and any other, change regularly. Please verify the state health laws you’re researching by conducting your own legal research or contacting a lawyer.

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