Most of us have no idea what our medical record contains. We assume our providers keep thorough and accurate accounts of our office visits and medical procedures, yet we rarely ask to see these documents. Often it is only when something goes wrong that we think to request a copy of our medical records. The information our doctor or hospital provides could mean the difference between a successful malpractice case or a travesty of justice.
The truth of the matter is that your medical record belongs to you. Aside from a few narrow exceptions, you are entitled to a copy of your records for a reasonable administrative fee. Despite this fact, some providers will try to block or discourage your access to records, especially if there is the potential for litigation. Worse yet, the provider may give you some but not all of the information you request, thereby painting an incomplete or inaccurate picture of your healthcare. In some cases, providers have been known to intentionally render their records illegible – a tactic known as spoliation of evidence.
Medical privacy is governed to a large extent by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. The law can be quite complicated, but violations can be reported to the Office for Civil Rights.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to possible medical negligence, don’t let your doctor or hospital take advantage of your inability to access records. Let us help you obtain the information you need to see if there is any recourse available.