Access to medical records is often necessary in medical malpractice cases because they need to be used as evidence to prove the patient’s claim. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other New York laws, patients have the right to full access to their medical records at their request. In New York once a patient sends a health care provider a written request to see and receive a copy of their medical record the health care provider must let a patient see their record within ten days and give the patient a copy to the patient within a reasonable time should they request it. Physicians and institutions can charge for copies, but no more than 75 cents per page plus postage.
The hospital, clinic, or physician owns all the medical records it possesses but the patient the record pertains to has the right to gain access to the information the records contains. Some third parties can also gain access to a certain patient’s medical records, such as parents or guardians, subsequently treating physicians, attorneys representing patients, and other interested parties by subpoena or court order. Normally, a patient needs to give consent to allow third parties access to their medical records.
A patient may need to contact more than one hospital, clinic, and/or physician in order to obtain all their medical records, whether or not they are relevant to the injury claimed in the medical malpractice lawsuit. Patients may want medical records not directly relevant to their injury to establish their health prior to the injury.
In New York, physicians can deny a patient access to certain parts of their medical record. Such information includes the physicians personal notes and observations, information disclosed under the expectation that it will remain confidential, certain information the practitioner believes should not be disclosed with regards to treatment of a minor, information that may cause substantial harm to the patient or others, and substance abuse program records. Also, information that was obtained by another physician who is still in practice can be denied. This information should be requested directly from that physician. Patients can appeal the denial of access to any or all portions of their medical records.
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