Your Medical Records: Do you have access and ownership?

Your Medical Records: Do you have access and ownership?Photo by Hush Naidoo Jade Photography on Unsplash

“Access to computers and the Internet has become a basic need for education in our society.”  Kent Conrad

Do you own your medical records?

Henrietta Lacks unknowingly donated her medical information when as a young mother of five, she died from cervical cancer.

Her cells, identified as “HeLa cells” (taken from her first and last name), were used in research around the world, from the polio vaccine, and in vitro fertilization, to chemotherapy drugs and many other medical advances. It is known that many of the medical studies that resulted in Nobel Prize winners used HeLa cells to make their medical discoveries.

Today, while there are more laws that specify our rights to access and control our medical information and how it is shared, not all state laws make it clear, especially when it comes to ownership and denying access to patient medical information.

Conflicts with medical record ownership may occur between healthcare facilities and providers. For example, when a practitioner leaves a medical group, some states’ laws allow a departing provider to take a copy of the patient records. However, many state laws are vague. A.R.S. Section 12-2993 describes when a health care provider may provide or deny a patient or other patient decision maker’s access to medical or payment records and mandates the denial must be noted in the patient’s record. For more information about various states’ laws regarding medical record ownership, see George Washington University’s website on Health Information & the Law; the following link provides a 50 State map with links and table by the state as well as references to state statutes about medical record ownership. Note: The information on the website may not be current.

Recently adopted federal regulations now prohibit blocking access to electronic health information (EHI). The “Information Blocking Rule” (Blocking Rule) forbids terms or conditions that unreasonably limit access to or exchange of EHI. Therefore, when a healthcare provider leaves a group practice and seeks EHI records as permitted under Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and state law, the group practice may be required to comply with the request. Group practices and health care providers will need to review their current practices to become compliant with the new Blocking Rule to avoid violation and potential penalties; the US Department of Health and Human Services is authorized to impose penalties for violating the Blocking Rule.

For more information about EHI access and sharing requirements, go to the page:

The information provided does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information is for general informational purposes only. This information may not constitute the most up-to-date information. Links provided are only for the convenience of the reader, A. Ferraris Law, PLLC, and its members do not endorse the contents of the third-party references.

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