In the process of creating your PRH (Personal Health Record), you probably made quite a few requests for information from various doctors—but how do doctors do the same thing? In order to share your medical records between practices and doctors, you have probably filled out a HIPAA release form.
Who Can See My Medical Records?
A limited number of people, including you (obviously,) any doctors you approve, and your insurer. In some cases, usually dealing with violent crimes, law enforcement may have access to your medical records.
Anyone beyond that limited circle of individuals will need to be given explicit permission by you—usually via a HIPAA form.
What Is HIPAA?
HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. It sets up a standard of privacy and accountability for all of your medical records. It also requires that your health care provider notify you in the case of a data breach.
HIPAA is usually a good thing–it prevents unauthorized parties like your boss, neighbors, or family members from gaining access to your medical information, or from having doctors gossip about your care. However, it also means that you must authorize the transfer and release of your previous records to each new doctor that is added to your medical team. This is where the HIPAA form comes in.
The release form authorizes your doctor to share your medical information with a specific person. This can include another doctor or specialist, or a lawyer, in the case of a personal injury lawsuit. Having a signed HIPAA release form alongside Power of Attorney or healthcare proxy paperwork can also be helpful in an emergency.
HIPAA release forms usually also have a standard of “minimum necessary.” This means that the person you have authorized will only be able to see the minimum necessary from your file to be able to do their jobs properly.
Where can I find a HIPAA release form?
Here’s the bad news: there is no single form that is universally accepted. You can google “HIPAA release form + [your state]” or ask your doctor to email you a blank form that they use. From there, filling it out is fairly self-explanatory. You will have to specify who gets to see your data, and provide a range of dates for their access. Ask your doctor how they would like to get the form back, and send it in as directed.