According to the Health insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA) of 1996, you have the right to obtain copies of most of your medical records, whether they are maintained electronically or on paper. These include the provider’s notes, medical test results, lab reports, and billing information. The Privacy Rule gives you, with few exceptions, the right to inspect, review, and receive a copy of your medical records and billing records that are held by health plans and health care providers covered by the Privacy Rule. Reviewing your medical records is not only the smart thing to do, but also your right. It allows you to update any information that may be vital to your care or to query your doctor about prescriptions or test results that are missing or incorrect. Knowing what is in your medical records can be every bit as important as seeing a doctor in the first place.
Only you or your personal representative has the right to access your records. A health care provider or health plan may send copies of your records to another provider or health plan only as needed for treatment or payment or with your permission. The Privacy Rule does not require the health care provider or health plan to share information with other providers or plans. HIPAA gives you important rights to access your medical records and to keep your information private.
How to Request Your Medical Records
At Fleur De Lis Family Healthcare, our protocol dictates that all requests will be handled in a professional manner that complies with HIPPA regulations and with the legal statues of the state of Louisiana. To provide you or your child’s medical records in a prompt manner, all record requests must be emailed to MedicalRecords@FleurDeLisFHC.com. When requesting your records, be sure to include:
Please allow up to five business days for us to process and complete your request. The wait time is typically shorter, however there are times depending on the type of information being requested that can take longer. We thank you for your patience.Charges and Costs of Services
As a provider, we cannot deny you a copy of your records because you have not paid for the services you have received. However, be aware that as a provider we may charge for the reasonable costs if you want them copied or delivered on paper, by fax, or via electronic media. There is a State-by-State Guide of Medical Record Copying Fees and in the state of Louisiana it is specified in RS 40:1165.1 Subpart B of the healthcare information records. The provider cannot charge you a fee for searching for or retrieving your records.
Records Your Provider May Deny
There are records to which you may be denied access. These primarily involve mental health records for which the provider's notes may be considered "impressions" rather than diagnoses. It has been argued that disclosure of these records may harm the doctor-patient relationship or be misconstrued when taken out of context. With that being said, a provider cannot deny your request because it might hurt your feelings. It can only be denied if the release of the information may compel you to harm yourself or others. If denied, the denial must be provided to you in writing.
Under the law, there are some instances when your health information may be withheld, although these limitations are subject to broad interpretation. You do not have the right to access a provider’s psychotherapy notes. Psychotherapy notes are notes that a mental health professional takes during a conversation with a patient. They are kept separate from the patient’s medical and billing records. HIPAA also does not allow the provider to make most disclosures about psychotherapy notes about you without your authorization.
Once you receive a copy of your medical records, review them carefully. If you find errors or omissions, contact us to request a change, or amendment, to your record. If we created the information, we will correct and amend any factual errors or track down reports that should have been maintained in your file. This will ensure your future care isn’t compromised with wrongful information.
However, this does not extend to differences of opinions for which your doctor has the right to express a medical opinion. This includes notes regarding contributing factors to an illness (such as alcoholism or HIV) that you would rather not have in your medical records. Altering or omitting the records would not only be ethically problematic, but it could also subject the provider to legal action.
With that being said, if you believe that the refusal of a correction is unjust or places you in harm's way, you have the right to submit a complaint detailing the dispute of disagreement that the provider add to your record. See 45 C.F.R. §§ 164.508, 164.524 and 164.526, and the Frequently Asked Questions.