Release of Information and HIPAA: What You Need to Know
In an environment that is increasingly shaped by regulatory requirements that involve individual rights to privacy, it is important to understand some specifics about release of information and HIPAA to minimize risk exposure. Looking to protect patients is most likely one of the greatest concerns, especially if mistakes may lead to lawsuits.
Privacy, Patients’ Rights, Release of Information and HIPAA
HIPAA was created to standardize what had become a varied set of federal and state laws that were intended to protect the personal health information of citizens but often were not able to accomplish this objective. Prior to HIPAA:
- There was no limitations placed on the where and what could be distributed;
- Consent was not required;
- Mistakes in files were not addressed or tracked; and
- There were no security measures for electronic medical records.
A New Standard of Privacy and Rights
Release of information and HIPAA have new rules that must be followed and are now monitored more closely:
- Consumers have more rights that are working to protect them from having their health care records and any related financial and administrative transactions secured so that the information is not misused in some way.
- The privacy rule covers medical records that are in electronic form, paper, and even oral statements.
- HIPAA applies to all types of healthcare organizations – from small doctor’s offices to large hospitals and government health agencies.
- Patients have a right to a written explanation of how a certain healthcare organization can use and disclose their health information. Usually, this involves having each patient sign a form when they come in for an appointment or have a procedure.
- Patients are allowed to see their medical records, request copies, and ask for amendments.
- Part of the regulatory measures require these organizations to establish written policies about privacy and patients’ rights as well as train all employees within these organizations about HIPAA.
While this post summarized the main points of what you need to know about HIPAA and its application to copying medical records, it is clear that there is so much more to learn and understand about this new standard for privacy and patients’ rights. Here are the main points:
- HIPAA offers a standardized approach that was previously not used across the country.
- The level of consent from patients has increased, providing them with a greater right to privacy if they choose.
- The new standard requires education and training on the part of all those involved with medical records across all types of organizations.
Fig Gungor is CEO of OneSource Document Management, a New York based company that offers a broad range of customized copy and scanning services that translate into a significant savings for insurance companies, hospitals and large medical facilities.