The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) takes patients' rights extremely seriously. They diligently work to ensure that hospitals are providing adequate care and upholding the fundamental rights of their patients. One of the patient rights that the HHS works to protect is privacy.
In order to ensure that patients' confidential medical information, reports, and diagnostics are kept private, the HHS has created several laws specifically designed to do just that. These laws monitor hospitals' actions, and protect the privacy of patients' information from being inappropriately shared with the public. These rules are federally mandated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Unfortunately, many hospitals are so worried about repercussions from the HHS when sharing medical information that they refuse to give patients copies of their own medical reports, which is actually a violation of HIPAA in itself.
HIPAA Rules: Medical Report Confidentiality and Why You're Entitled to Your Own Info
HIPAA was enacted by the HHS in order to protect patient confidentiality and privacy rights. It is specifically designed to secure personal medical information from the public. It does so through the means of several rules and mandates that hospitals and medical staff are obliged to obey or else face government-regulated consequences.
The main focus of these rules is the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which expressly protects the privacy of patient health information. Additional regulations include:
- HIPAA Security Rule: sets national security protocols to secure electronically protected medical information and reports.
- Patient Safety Rule: provides confidentiality incentives (agreements, job-security, etc.) to protect information that is used to improve or verify patient safety. For example, if you are unconscious, an ER doctor is allowed to access your medical reports and information from your primary doctor's office in order to verify health issues, even though you did not give him direct consent.
- HIPAA Breach Notification Rule: requires businesses (including hospitals and clinics) to notify the HHS if health information has been breached, inappropriately shared, or taken from an unsecured location within the business.
- Disclosure Rules: permits protected medical reports to be disclosed directly to administrative, financial, legal, and quality improvement entities for treatment, payment, and health care operations activities to avoid creating unnecessary barriers to the delivery of quality health care.
Where to Turn When Your HIPAA Rights Have Been Violated
When a hospital or health care provider fails to honor HIPAA regulations, and either unlawfully shares your medical information or refuses to give you access to your medical records promptly and at a reasonable cost, you have the right to fight back. The first thing you must do is contact the HHS Office of Civil Rights for Health Information Privacy. They will investigate your claim and if found guilty will fine the hospital for HIPAA violations.
Your next course of action is to contact us. We'll help you explore your legal options with regard to breach of confidentiality and withholding private property. A disregard for HIPPA rules can not only cause you embarrassment and grief, but the withholding of your medical records could cause you financial and physical harm. Don't allow your hospital to get away with this. Call now for a free consultation and review of your case. You owe it to yourself to get the advice and representation you deserve.
Make sure your family and friends are aware of their federal rights for medical report privacy and disclosure. Use your social media to share this page with them via Facebook, or tell them to contact us directly to discuss any potential questions or concerns they may have about their reports. Click the media icons to show your support and help them get the information they need.