Our medical records contain sensitive stuff. Besides basic information like our contact information and Social Security number, doctors and nurses routinely record everything from our physical and mental health to previous diagnoses and current courses of treatment. Releasing this information can be embarrassing, humiliating, and (in some cases) potentially relationship or career ending.
On top of that, access to health records can be critical to securing necessary medical care, insurance policies, and benefits. Litigation can often hinge on someone’s injuries or a doctor’s delivered care. What’s protected from whom and when can be a complicated question, and the answer often depends on federal and state medical records laws. Here’s a quick summary of state medical records law in Wyoming.
Wyoming Medical Records Laws
Wyoming’s general rule is that patients must provide written authorization before hospitals can disclose health care information about them. Authorization must be in writing, signed and dated, identify what can be disclosed, and the person to whom the patient’s health care information is to be disclosed. Most of the time patients can probably expect someone requesting this information to provide a form either to them or to their health care provider. Hospitals also must keep records of what information has been released to which recipients. And patients can revoke authorization to disclose at any time.
However, like many general rules there are numerous specific exceptions. Most of these are for medical, legal, or health care business-related needs. Hospitals do not need patient authorization to disclose their medical records to anyone providing a patient’s health care or for the hospital’s own administrative ends. Disclosure without authorization can also be made when doctors or hospitals reasonably believe doing so will avoid imminent danger to the health and safety of the patient or anyone else. Immediate family members and friends can also gain access as well as medical researchers under provided circumstances. Finally, medical records can be disclosed pursuant to court orders.
Anyone who is injured by disclosure or non-disclosure that violates Wyoming law can seek legal relief. Plaintiffs can secure an order to withhold or disclose information, and can also recover compensation, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and costs of the litigation.
|Who Has Access to Records?||Patients (35-2-606); anyone authorized by the patient (35-2-607); health care providers, family members, and researchers (35-2-609).|
|What Privileges Apply to Medical Records?||Doctor-Patient Privilege (1-12-101).|
|Mandatory Reporting Requirements||Child abuse (14-3-205); specified sexually transmitted diseases (35-4-130); communicable disease (35-4-107).|
|Patient Consent and Waiver||Yes. Patients can authorize disclosure (35-2-607).|
|Insurance Companies||Hospitals can disclose without authorization as part of securing payment for health care already provided to patients (35-2-608; 35-2-609).|
|Provisions Related to HIV/AIDS||Doctors and hospitals can be required to disclose cases of sexually transmitted diseases that are contagious and dangerous (35-4-130).|
Related Resources for Medical Records Laws
Medical records are protected in additional ways. The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) provides patients with rights to their information. Patients are also protected by doctor-patient confidentiality and other federal and state legal doctrines. For more information about specific cases, we recommend contacting a local health care lawyer for advice and assistance.
Contact a qualified attorney.