State laws, in addition to federal laws, regulate how medical information is to be disseminated and when certain information rises to the level of public concern. All states protect the privacy of medical records in some fashion, and records with personally identifying information are always considered confidential. New Jersey medical records laws require mandatory reporting to the proper state authorities when there are signs of child abuse.
The main provisions of New Jersey's medical records laws are listed below, and a more in-depth look follows.
|Who Has Access to Records?||Medical records confidential but may be disclosed to patient, upon court order, and other exceptions (§30:4-24.3)|
|What Privileges Apply to Medical Records?||Psychologist-patient (45:14B-28); Physician-patient (2A:84A-22.1, .2)|
|Mandatory Reporting Requirements||Child abuse (§9:6-8.30); pertussis vaccine (§26:2N-5); venereal disease (§26:4-41); AIDS (26:5C-6)|
|Patient Consent and Waiver||-|
|Provisions Related to HIV/AIDS||All records with identifying information are confidential (§26:5C-7); disclosure per 26:5C-8, et seq.|
Federal Health Care Records Laws
Congress passed a law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability act (also known as HIPPA), which generally requires that hospitals and their staff keep a patient's medical records confidential unless the patient allows the hospital to disclose the records. However, there are a few exceptions.
One of the main exceptions to HIPPA's privacy requirement is when the patient needs help, and cannot consent to disclosing the medical reords. This may be due to a traumatic injury. Normally the doctor will discuss the medical information with the patient's family or next of kin. The patient may have a living will, or a health care power of attorney that specifies who the doctor is allowed to discuss medical records with.
As well, doctors can share the patient's medical records with other health care providers, as long as disclosing the information is necessary for the patient's treatment.
Who Has Access to Medical Records
In New Jersey, a patient will always have access to their medical records. As well, doctors will always have to give you your medical records, even if you are late on paying your bills.
Medical Record Privileges
In certain lawsuits, especially criminal lawsuits, doctors may be forced to disclose medical information. However, there are some situations in which a doctor is allowed to assert a privilege, and cannot be forced to testify about a patient's medical history. In New Jersey, a medical health care provider cannot be forced to testify about a patients medical history or mental health. One of the justifications for this privilege is that it may dissuade people with mental health issues from seeking professional help if they know that the doctor may be forced to testify about the patient's mental health.
In certain cases, doctors must disclose medical information. Those situations include child abuse, pertussisus vaccination, venereal disease, and AIDS. However, all records relating to HIV/AIDS that contain identifying information are confidential.
If you would like to know more about health care disclosure requirements in New Jersey, there are many attorneys throughout the state who have experience in health care law matters. In addition to answering your questions about records disclosures, those attorneys may be able to advise you about the viability of a claim against a doctor or hospital for harm caused as a result of improperly disclosing medical information.
Contact a qualified attorney.