Your hospital records contain valuable information about you and your medical history. There's any number of reasons why you may need your records, and if you're in Dallas and you need to get a hold of your medical records, you've come to the right place.
First, we'll provide the steps to take to obtain copies of your health records, and then we have a run-down of what privacy protections you have under state and federal law. This basic resource should help patients in Dallas exercise their rights and protect their medical records.
Do I Have a Right to My Health Records?
Yes. Both the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Texas Medical Records Privacy Act give you rights to your medical records. You can also tell your provider to give a copy to another health care professional.
Basically, in Texas you have the right to:
Don't I Own My Own Medical Records?
Technically your doctor owns the physical copy of your records and can keep the original. Don't worry. You still have the right to look at them and get copies. Hey, a copy is as good at the original.
How Do I Get My Records? Is There a Form? What About Privacy?
That's a lot of questions, but we've got answers. First, there isn't one standard form. Your doctor should have a form you can use to request your records.
Second, you'll have to be pretty explicit about which records you want. You'll also have to give a reason for the release and identify the person who will receive the records. Under Texas law, your request must:
Third, not just anyone can get your medical records. Your provider will give you a notice of privacy practices, which usually occurs at your first visit.
Sometimes your doctor can disclose your records without your authorization. For example, if you are a threat to public safety or are involved in a situation related to victims of abuse or neglect, your records may be released to authorities. Also, if you are incapacitated or are in an emergency, providers sometimes may use or disclose your medical information if it's in your best interests. Finally, if it's required by law, such as a subpoena or court order, your records could get released.
No one likes sales calls or junk mail. Good news. Your health information can't be used or shared for those purposes including sales calls or advertising, unless you first give your permission by signing a form authorizing such use.
Will I Have to Pay For My Medical Records?
Probably. Your doctor may charge for the reasonable costs of copying and mailing your records if you request paper copies. Fees change often and are adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index. Here's the most current information.
Your health care provider can't charge you a fee to just look at or read your medical records.
How Long Do I Have to Wait?
Your doctor and hospital usually must let you see your electronic medical records or give you a copy of them within 15 business days after they receive your request and payment for copies. "Business days" often do not include weekends.
Generally, your health care provider must give you a copy in the format that you request if they are able to do so.
Can I Be Denied Access?
Yes, your doctor can deny your request to see or get a copy of your medical records, but only in a few cases. For example, if he or she believes that letting you see your record might physically endanger you, they can deny your request. Your doctor must provide you information about your right to have their decision reviewed and how to file a complaint.
Who Has to Follow these Laws?
Most health care providers such as doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and nursing homes, as well as your health plan.
Contact a qualified attorney.