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Thread: Medical Records Release Information

  1. #1

    Default Medical Records Release Information

    AAPC: Back to School
    Does anyone know where I can find information regarding guidelines for release of medical records?
    Here is what is happening............a CNM left a local ONGYN practice and joined our OBGYN practice - she has patients that want to stay with her for their OB and GYN care. Those patients are supposedly being told they have to physcially come to her previous office to get their medical records. We are being told by these patients that when they do this the staff are asking them why they are transferring care, making rude comments and giving them a hard time.
    I want to know if it is indeed legal, ethical, etc. for this practice to force a patient to be physically present to release their medical records?
    Thank you in advance for any help I can get.

  2. #2

    Default Medical Records Release Information

    The State Board of Medical Examiners has guidelines they can provide. There are legalities involved and it is okay for the office providing the records to charge a fee for the release of the records and there are guidelines for the amounts charged also.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    El Paso

    Default HIPAA Privacy Rule Applies

    In as short an explanation as possible… The HIPAA Privacy rule gives a patient the right to access individual PHI (medical record). Requests must be in writing from the patient or patient’s representative and directed to the privacy official or person who is designated to act in the privacy official’s absence.

    Every practice should have their own “Patient Request to Access PHI” form to be completed by the patient because it must include information that allows the patient to “define” what information being requested. HIPAA requires these requests be documented and tracked and the provider from whom the record has been requested has 30 days to respond (from the date of receipt of the request). However, if there are medical records request guidelines specific to the STATE in which you practice, and those STATE guidelines are more stringent than HIPAA, then STATE guideline applies. Typically, guidance can also be found under the State’s Medical Board. For example: Texas Administrative Code (Medical Board) and Texas Occupations Code contain a more stringent response guideline of 15 business days, so the state trumps the 30 day response required by HIPAA (federal).

    I am not aware of any guideline that allows a provider to force a patient to pick up the records. In fact, the rule states the patient can request records be sent via U.S. Postal Service. The information can also be sent electronically as long as you have written authorization from the patient. The practice is allowed to charge a reasonable cost-based fee to cover the cost of copying and postage. In Texas, the STATE has guidelines on what constitutes a “reasonable fee” for providing copies of medical records and, except in the case of an emergency, records do not have to be released until fee is paid. However, medical records can NOT be withheld because the patient has a past due account for medical care or treatment previously rendered.

    Hope this helps!
    Susan M. Garrett, CPC, COC
    Past President El Paso Texas Chapter AAPC
    Past Member AAPCCA Board of Directors
    cell 915-204-8333

  4. #4

    Default Thank you!

    Thanks for the input!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Milwaukee WI

    Default What I did

    When I changed doctors, I wrote a letter to my original doctor informing him/her of my new physician's name, address, phone and requesting that my medical records be transferred to my new doctor. I then double checked with the new doctor a couple of weeks later to be sure the records had been sent. Obviously the original doctor didn't send 40 years worth of records, but the reports of the last two annual exams, which was sufficient for my new physician.

    Hope that helps.

    F Tessa Bartels, CPC, CEMC

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