Patient Safety - Reality Check

Release of Medical Information

It is your information. We have heard caregivers try to persuade patients that HIPPA laws forbid their giving the information to the patient.

We have heard them tell patients that HIPPA laws require the patient to keep the records secret after they are received, but it is your information. You can publish it in a newspaper if you want.

We have heard caregivers say that you could be liable for damages if you do not keep the information private. You are the one who could sue them for damages if they did not keep it private. It is your information and it is your privacy that is supposed to be protected by HIPPA laws. You are the one who has to sign a release to allow them to show it to other people, not the other way around. You can post your information on a billboard if you want.

Below are examples of records you may need to attach to your complaint.

Primary Care Physician Charts - the notes surrounding the event that explain why you needed care in the first place, and what the results were afterwards. Although be sure to read written policy and white wall of silence for how fruitless such notes can be, and creating a record for one thing you can do about it.

Notes of other doctors - anyone who has helped to diagnose whatever problems have resulted.

Post Operative Report - When you ask for the "Post Op Report" sometimes they think that you need only the summary written by the surgeon, but you might need all of it which could be ten or twenty pages. For one thing, the names of the nurse witnesses are on it. You might need a medical professional to help interpret this report.

X-rays and such like will be released to you too, but be careful. They usually give you the original. Normally there is no reason to pay for having a copy made. And insurance probably will not cover having a copy made. But when patients deliver x-rays to doctors who are not sympathetic to examinations that could indict other doctors, things like x-rays can get "lost." If you have had a problem in medicine, you are better off paying to have copies made. Even if they do not get lost, they can be tied up for months while someone else wants to look at them. If the state board investigates your case, they won't tell you they have subpoenaed your x-rays. You won't know that your case is in a "hold" file indefinitely awaiting the arrival of a document that might be in your car. If what is in your car is only a copy, things keep moving along.

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I used to include here a link to a medical release form. It used to be that they were not easy to get. Now they are everywhere and they keep changing, so I've stopped updating that page and don't even include a link to it anymore.

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