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Washington Medical Records Laws

Overview of Washington Medical Record Laws

A combination of state and federal laws protect the privacy of a patient's medical records, including the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Washington medical records laws state that only the patient may authorize disclosure of medical records to anyone other than health care providers, penal institution officials, or public health authorities.

Providing Authorization to Share Your Medical Records

Although Washington (and federal) laws prohibit the sharing of a patient's medical records, third parties regularly require access to certain documents in order to complete a process. For example, your employer may need to verify the validity of a workers' compensation claim, but cannot gain unfettered access to your records (only that which is relevant to the claim). Also, insurance companies and pharmacists require access to otherwise restricted medical records.

Health care providers, penal institution officials, and public health authorities may access your medical records without authorization, according to state law. You will have to fill out an authorization form indicating exactly where a copy may be sent in order to allow access by an employer or other third parties.

If your health care provider or any non-exempt third party releases medical records without proper authorization, they may be held liable for a confidentiality breach.

The following chart lists the main provisions of Washington's medical records laws, with links to additional resources. See FindLaw's Patient Rights section for related articles.

Who Has Access to Records? Patient may authorize disclosure (70.02.030); without authorization: health care providers, penal institution officials, public health authorities (§70.02.050)
What Privileges Apply to Medical Records? Psychologist (18.83.110)
Mandatory Reporting Requirements Child abuse or adult dependent or developmentally disabled (§26.44.030); tuberculosis (70.28.010); sexually transmitted diseases (70.24.105)
Patient Consent and Waiver -
Insurance Companies -
Provisions Related to HIV/AIDS Disclosure of identity of person investigated, considered, or requested to test for HIV permitted to those under 70.24.105

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Washington health care attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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