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Medicine & the Law

There are many reasons why you may need to get a copy of your medical records. The federal Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA, gives you the right to access medical records from any medical provider.

In addition, you may also request and receive the medical records of someone else if you are a designated representative. For the most part, parents and legal guardians can obtain their children’s medical records upon request.

If you are representing an estate, you may obtain the medical records of a deceased person. Also, if you are related to a person and information in their file relates to your own health, you may request records.

You may request someone else’s medical records if you are a legal representative of that person. The person must give you permission, in writing, to act as their representative. Also, if you are appointed the legal guardian of another adult, you have the right to obtain their medical records.

In most cases, parents and legal guardians may have access to their children’s medical records, although there are a few exceptions.

  • If the child gets medical care at the direction of a court,
  • If the child consents to medical care and parental consent is not required under state law, and
  • If the parent agrees that the child and the medical provider have a confidential relationship.

HIPPA does allow healthcare providers to with certain types of medical records including:

  • Medical information that the provider believes could endanger your life, your safety, or the safety of another person,
  • Psychotherapy notes, and
  • Information the provider is gathering for lawsuits.

HIPPA requires medical providers to make records available to you within thirty days of your request. If your request is denied by a provider, in most instances they will have to provide you with a denial letter. In some cases, you may appeal the denial.

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