What Rights Do I Have to My Medical Records After a Personal Injury?
Oct 11, 2021 12:06 PM EDT
If you have been in a car accident or injured through the negligent actions of another person, proof of your injuries is very important if you decide to file a claim. The most important piece of evidence you can have are your medical records. Your physicians will have all of these records and you have to retrieve them and give them to your lawyer so they can build a case. But what are your rights, and how do you retrieve these records?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) helps protect your personal health information by limiting who can have access to or retrieve these records. HIPPA allows you, your child, or a legal representative to collect your medical information. You can also collect medical records of the deceased if you are the legal representative of your state.
It is very easy to collect your own medical records. All you have to do is visit the hospital or the healthcare facility where you were treated and ask for them. If you are injured or cannot otherwise go to the healthcare facility to do this, the process can be slightly longer. However, if you can prove you are asking for your own medical records, the hospital will send the medical records through various means.
This can be paper copies, CDs, flash drives or other types of portable storage options. To help protect patients from the exorbitant prices they would otherwise pay, the government enacted the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health) Act. The Act states that all patients have the right to receive their medical records in an electronic format. When medical records are sent this way, the patient only has to pay the costs for the production of the documents.
Do note that when patients decide to retrieve medical records under the HITECH Act, they can only request individual medical records and have them sent to themselves. This means they cannot use this method to send medical records directly from the healthcare facility to their attorneys or other third parties.
If you decide to hire a lawyer to help you with or handle your personal injury case, you can get them to retrieve your medical records on your behalf. In these cases, the lawyer will have you sign a HIPPA release or power of attorney that will grant them the legal authority to do this. Some lawyers will pay for the medical record retrieval and then charge you later or deduct their expenses from any settlement won.
In some cases, law firms will seek the services of companies that handle medical record retrieval for law firms. This is especially the case where the law firm is quite busy or does not have enough staff to handle the medical retrieval process. You can be assured that these medical record retrieval companies take your privacy seriously and ensure your lawyer is the only person who receives your medical records.
The process of retrieving medical records can range from being easy if you are collecting your own records, to incredibly complicated if you have someone else retrieve the records for you. Fortunately, a lawyer can handle everything for you in case you decide to file a personal injury case.