The confidentiality of medical records is protected by both federal and state laws, since a patient's medical information could be used for fraud, blackmail, to exclude job applicants, and other nefarious actions. Still, statistical information without any personally identifying data may be shared to track communicable diseases, gauge the health of communities, and do additional types of research.
Medical Records and Privacy in Rhode Island: Overview
According to Rhode Island statute, only a patient has access to his or her medical records unless written consent is provided. Of course, physicians, health care professionals, and insurance agents involved in the process also have access to pertinent records.
Additional details of Rhode Island's medical records laws are listed in the following chart. See FindLaw's Patient Rights Basics section for related articles.
|Who Has Access to Records?||
Patient (§5-37-22); holders of medical records must keep them confidential; patient's written consent generally required (§5-37.3-4)
When a patient requests, in writing, that his or her medical records be transferred to another physician or medical practice group, the original physician or medical practice group shall promptly honor the request. The physician or medical practice group shall be reimbursed for reasonable expenses incurred in connection with copying the medical records.
|What Privileges Apply to Medical Records?||Health care providers (§9-17-24)|
|Mandatory Reporting Requirements||Occupational diseases (§23-5-5); sexually transmitted and communicable diseases (§23-8-1; §23-11-5)|
|Patient Consent and Waiver||-|
|Provisions Related to HIV/AIDS||Disclosure of AIDS test result to third parties limited by §23-6-17|
Note: State laws are subject to change when new legislation is enacted or higher courts (including U.S. appeals courts) either overrule or clarify existing laws. While we strive to ensure the accuracy of these pages, you also may want to contact a Rhode Island health care attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Federal Privacy Protections
The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) created nationwide standards for the privacy protection of electronically stored medical information. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also enacted a requirement that medical professionals keep any individually identifiable information, such as Social Security numbers, confidential.
Research the Law
Rhode Island Medical Records Laws: Related Resources
Contact a qualified attorney.