Soon you will know exactly who is looking at your medical records...if new law is passed

Want to find out who is looking at your medical records?  Soon you might be able to.

A proposed federal rule will require hospitals, doctors' offices and insurers to inform patients of anyone who has accessed their electronic medical records upon request. Under the rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, health care businesses must identify everyone in their company, including data-entry clerks, who have accessed a patient's electronic records and when. Under the new rule, you can find out exactly who is looking at your medical records and when.  This is great stuff!

Why should you care?  If you are in a bitter divorce and your husband works at the local hospital, you can find out if your husband has been checking your electronic medical records.  You can find out how many times your spouse viewed your electronic medical records and the dates and times that he accessed your records.  Good stuff, right?

In malpractice cases, an important issue is often whether the attending physician reviewed the patient's past medical records. For example, a pivotal issue in a malpractice may be whether the attending physician checked the prior medical records for similar complaints or symptoms that bear on the patient's current condition.  Of course, the doctor testifies that he "always looks at the medical records of prior hospital visits" and you're supposed to accept his word for it.  Yeah, right! With this proposed rule, you will have a way to confirm whether your doctor reviewed your past medical records and the date and time that he looked at your electronic records.  Pretty nice, right?

Since 2005, hospitals have had to keep an internal log of who accesses electronic records. However, hospitals usually do not give patients the right to review the internal log or find out who is reviewing their electronic medical records.  Now, this is set to change.

The Department of Health and Human Services listed the proposed rule on the Federal Registry for public comment by August 1st.  If approved, the rule would go into effect in January, 2013.  If someone is snooping and looking at your private medical records, you can find out who is violating your privacy rights and file a complaint with the HHS's Office of Civil Rights.

This proposed rule should be passed with flying colors!  I love this rule.  Finding out who is checking your medical records and when is an important right for patients and one that I highly endorse.  Great job to the federal agency and let's hope this rule gets approved. 

If you have questions or want more information, I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 866-889-6882.  You are welcome to join my e-mail newsletter list and receive weekly updates by e-mail about current events impacting patients' rights.  Thank you for reading my blog.

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