The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996
The Health Insurance portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has established a set of national standards that protects and allows patients control over their medical records. Therefore, HIPAA does affect the patients access to their medical records. Patients should be able to see or obtain their own records and request any corrections as needed for their files. The patient should ask their doctor in writing for a request of their medical record. This way the patient has a record of the request and any important information such as the day of the request by the patient. It usually takes about 30 days to receive the copy of the medical record. In some cases, the first copy is free, depending on if they are being picked up in person. Patients may be charged fees for additional copies because the staff taking is time to process all information to be gathered and mailed to the patient. Therefore, because of HIPAA, patients have more access and control over their medical records (ocr 2003).
According to HIPAA, patients personal health information (PHI) is confidential and cannot be used or disclosed without proper authorization. However, there are some circumstances that allow the health information to be disclosed unrelated to healthcare. These circumstances would be 1) Required by law 2) public health activities 3) victims of abuse, neglect or domestic 4) health oversight activities 5) judicial and administrative proceedings 6) law enforcement purposes 7) decedents 8) cadaveric organ, eye, or tissue donation 9) research 10) serious threat to health or safety 11) essential government functions 12) workers compensation 13) risk of death or harm to oneself. These are the only circumstances that would allow the patients medical records to be obtained without authorization (OCR 2003).
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To be in compliance with the HIPAA laws, every employee needs to have training in all the procedures and policies with HIPAA to understand the confidentiality for all patients.
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