Gaining Access to Your Medical Records
Our medical records provide a host of valuable and highly personal information about us: our medical history, and any conditions we have or treatments we have received. These records are kept private and the information contained within is often confidential, so much so that we ourselves may not know what our own medical file contains. In cases involving medical malpractice claims, details such as medical notations and descriptions of procedures are often highly relevant to your case. The following is important information many people are unaware of regarding the types of medical records that are kept on your behalf, how they may be used in cases involving medical malpractice, and how to gain access to these files.
Your Medical Records
Medical records contain important information about your health and any medical procedures or treatments you have undergone, and this information is particularly valuable in medical malpractice cases. These cases generally center around medical errors or mistakes that were made by your doctor, hospital, or other healthcare provider, and your files may provide clues as to when, how, and why mistakes or errors were made. According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, which is operated by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, there are two main types of medical records:
- Personal Health Records (PHRs): These are records are controlled by you as a patient, and they contain information regarding your health that has been submitted by healthcare providers as well as yourself. Your provider often makes these records available online, in the hopes of encouraging you to take a more active interest in your own health and welfare.
- Electronic Health Records (EHRs): These records are typically maintained and accessed only by your healthcare providers, and may include health information from a variety of medical professionals who have examined or treated you over the years.
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Getting Access to Your Medical Files
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects your health information and ensures your privacy concerning your medical records and the information they contain. Your rights under HIPAA include the following:
- The right to access information contained in your medical records.
- The right to request changes to information contained within your file, and to request that information that is not on file be added.
- The right to know when information in your file has been shared with others, such as other doctors, insurers, government entities, and law enforcement.
- The right to request that certain information not be shared with people such as other doctors and nurses within a practice or clinic, health insurance providers, and your pharmacist.
You may ask to see your medical records and information, and you may also request a copy of your medical file, though you may have to put your request in writing and pay for copying costs and postage. Medical providers are not permitted to withhold information contained within your file, regardless of whether you owe them money or are requesting access to your file because of concerns over treatment.
Contact Us for Help
If you or someone you care about has suffered an injury or illness as the result of a medical error or mistake, contact our experienced South Carolina medical malpractice attorney today. At Anastopoulo Law Firm we assist victims in getting the compensation needed to recover from their injuries. With offices in Charleston and throughout South Carolina, we are happy to help you; call or contact us online today for a free consultation.