Medical records generally contain personal information that must be kept confidential. Typically, only the patient and his or her medical providers can access these medical records without express, often written, permission to release the data. The release of medical records to a third party should be done in a reasonable amount of time. However, public health officials must know about certain communicable disease, like HIV/AIDS. Therefore, sometimes disclosure of medical information related to a certain disease is necessary.
Medical records are typically regulated by federal law, such as HIPAA. This health information law requires confidentiality and many are familiar with it from the HIPAA notifications you receive when you first visit a doctor, dentist, or other health care provider. However, state laws also affect the privacy of medical records. The table below illustrates the primary Kentucky medical records privacy laws.
|Who Has Access to Records?||Generally, the patient and his or her medical providers have access to records. If you want to release your medical records to someone else, such as a military recruiter, the social security administration for a disability application, a spouse, or any other third party, you’ll have to sign a release form, that most health facilities can supply upon request.|
|What Privileges Apply to Medical Records?||The psychotherapist-patient or counselor-client privileges can apply to a medical records situation. A privilege means you can prevent a psychiatrist or counselor who has your medical records from disclosing them or testifying about your mental or physical health in general. There are some notable exceptions, such as a therapist testifying in a proceeding to involuntarily commit a person with mental illness to a psychiatric facility.|
|Mandatory Reporting Requirements||Kentucky administrative regulations designate some diseases that must be reported to Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
However, the Cabinet must keep this data confidential and public records requests don’t apply to this type of data, if an individual is identified or identifiable. This also includes studies on health care outcomes, costs, etc. General statistics can be created and shared in reports, for example, by the Cabinet.
|Protective Orders||A patient, hospital, or physician can ask to prohibit or limit use of medical records by protective order, which they must ask the court for. However, patients usually can waive the right to privacy of medical records, by permitting anyone they wish to be able to access their medical records.|
|Provisions Related to HIV/AIDS||Anonymous or confidential HIV testing is available through each local public health department. Counseling services are also available for those who test positive. Test results are limited in who they can be disclosed to, such as the Cabinet for Health and Family Services for disease tracking. However, the person’s name is not released, except for rare circumstances, such as an open court proceeding at the patient’s request.|
If your medical records were disclosed without your permission, you should contact the hospital or doctor’s office to request the records be returned and whoever received them destroy the records. In addition, you may want to speak to an experienced health care lawyer in your area, as you could have additional legal options.
Note: State laws change all the time, if you’re relying on the above legal information, you should verify its accuracy by conducting your own legal research or contacting a knowledgeable attorney.
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