Requesting Medical Records from Another Provider

rbassett

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Coeur d'Alene, ID
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We are an Ophthalmology clinic and we often request records from a patients PCP. Some of the PCP offices require us to get a Records Release form signed by the patient before we can obtain the records. It was my understanding that no authorization was required for records sent between a patients providers. And in some cases it is very inconvenient for the patient to sign a release and can be time consuming when these records are needed by us. (For example, my provider wants to know if the patient's PCP has done certain labs and if not he wants to order them ASAP, but the PCP's office is requiring us to get the patient to sign a records release first and he lives in a very rural area so it is very inconvenient for him to come in just to sign the release). Isn't there some rule where you CAN require a records release to be signed but only if it is not causing inconvenience to the patient and doesn't delay needed treatment? If so, could someone direct me to where I would find these rules in the HIPAA policies as proof?
Thank you.
 

chrissyfegan

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I reference the HHS.gov FAQ For Professionals site often: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/faq

Regarding consent to release information for treatment purposes, it says this:

"The Privacy Rule permits, but does not require, a covered entity voluntarily to obtain patient consent for uses and disclosures of protected health information for treatment, payment, and health care operations. Covered entities that do so have complete discretion to design a process that best suits their needs."
https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-profe...-between-consent-and-authorization/index.html

So, while providers are not required to obtain patient consent to share information with other providers, they are permitted to do so.

They also address Disclosures for Emergency Situations here: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-profe...ion-be-shared-in-a-severe-disaster/index.html
But it looks like they are talking about severe disasters / extreme emergencies, not inconvenience.

Many payors recommend obtaining a signed consent from each patient at their first visit, that authorizes you to share information with their PCP. This would save the inconvenience of having to get it from certain patients after they leave the office.


Chrissy Fegan, CPPM
 
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