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Vermont Medical Records Laws

We trust our doctors with an enormous amount of personal information. Yet we rarely think to ask about the rules and regulations regarding how our medical information is stored and shared. Most of us consider our medical records to be private, but which laws apply to sharing our most important personal information? This is a quick summary of medical records laws in Vermont.

Vermont Medical Records Laws

Vermont medical records laws hold all privileged patient medical records as confidential, available to some medical care professionals when necessary. Here is more valuable information about your medical records.

HIPPA

Along with Vermont state law, the federal law known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), normally requires doctors and their staff to keep your medical records confidential, unless you allow the doctor's office to disclose them. There are, however, three (3) general exceptions:

  1. Emergency: If you have suffered a traumatic injury and cannot make medical decisions for yourself, a doctor may discuss your medical information with a spouse or family member;
  2. Part of a Court Case: If you bring a personal injury lawsuit or a worker’s compensation claim , a doctor may testify about your health or injuries;
  3. Government Reporting: Doctors are required to report certain information (births, deaths, and some communicable diseases) to the government for public health interests.

Are Prescription Records Given the Same Confidentiality Protections as Other Medical Records?

Yes, under the federal HIPAA privacy regulations, prescription records are treated the same as other health records and are subject to the same confidentiality provisions.

Vermont law separately provides for the confidentiality of prescriptions, pharmacy orders and records relating to regulated drugs, but specifically mandates that these records shall be open to inspection to law enforcement agents enforcing federal and state drug laws and to agents of professional licensing boards.

Learn more about Vermont's medical records laws below, with links to additional sources. See FindLaw's Patient Rights section for more information.

Code Section(s) 12 §1612 et seq.
Who Has Access to Records? Patient, physician, chiropractor, dentist, nurse, or mental health professional not allowed to disclose information acquired in attending a patient in a professional capacity
What Privileges Apply to Medical Records? Vermont patient privilege statute and the mental health information statute permit disclosures without patient consent only if directed by a court of law.
Mandatory Reporting Requirements
  • Child abuse;
  • Abuse, neglect or exploitation of vulnerable adults;
  • Firearm-related injuries;
  • Suspicious deaths (such as suicide);
  • Requests by Chief Medical Examiner;
  • Communicable Diseases;
  • Fetal deaths;
  • Cancer patients;
  • Lead poisoning;
  • Blood alcohol testing reporting;
  • Mental health care records if provider has a duty to warn that a patient poses a serious risk of danger to an identifiable victim.
Liability of Healthcare Provider for Wrongful Disclosure
  • HIPAA privacy rules and the HITECH Act: A civil penalty may be imposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR) ranging from $100 to a maximum of $1,500,000.
  • Vermont Attorney General’s office: Authorized to enforce the HIPAA privacy regulations through injunction or civil penalties ranging from $100 up to a maximum of $25,000. Criminal penalties for certain egregious wrongful disclosures may be pursued by the U.S. Department of Justice as well.
  • Vermont law: There is no general penalty or cause of action for the wrongful release of confidential medical information. However, there is a statutory provision which imposes either a $500 fine or up to one year of imprisonment for the wrongful disclosure of information related to hospitalization for mental illness.
Provisions Related to HIV/AIDS HIV-related testing and counseling information disclosed upon court order showing "compelling need" that can't be accommodated "by other means" (pseudonym substituted if possible).

Note: State laws surrounding the issues of privacy and patients' rights are constantly changing. You may wish to contact a Vermont health care attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching. Most attorneys offer free consultations.

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