Can Any Doctor Access My Medical Records

Can Any Doctor Access My Medical Records?

Can Any Doctor Access My Medical Records?

Your medical records are a personal, private set of information, and many individuals wish to keep their medical records as private as possible. This means limiting access to their medical records to only a handful of authorized individuals, such as doctors providing care that need to examine previous health issues or methods of treatment.

Doctors are generally accepted as having access to your medical records, but you may be wondering if every doctor you visit, and even those you don’t consult for treatment, can see all of your medical records. Our article gives you more information on this and the details you need to understand how the privacy of medical records.


Are Medical Records Private?

Medical records are one of the most private sets of records that you may have to your name. They contain essential information about illnesses, surgeries, medications, disabilities, and treatments that you have received in the past or are currently receiving.

As such, your medical records are highly privacy protected to stop unauthorized individuals from reviewing this important personal history. This can stop them from using the information against you, committing fraud, or making discriminatory decisions based on your medical history.


What Is HIPAA?

The main federal law that protects medical records in the United States is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. This law set in motion the creation of national standards that protect patient health information and stop private medical records from being shared without the patient’s consent and knowledge. In general, this stops unauthorized individuals, such as employers, from accessing your health information.

HIPAA also requires that you give your explicit consent before your medical records may be shared or disclosed with others. This is typically done by acknowledging your medical records may be shared with certain other healthcare professionals via intake or new patient forms.

HIPAA ensures that patients may access copies of their medical records upon request and that their medical records only be shared with certain individuals. You are typically asked to list authorized individuals upon the establishment of your care with certain doctors or facilities.


Who Can Access My Medical Records?

Your medical records are primarily accessible by you, the patient. Healthcare facilities have an obligation to make copies of your medical records available to you upon request, and you may list other authorized individuals that the facility may also release a copy of your record.

If an individual that isn’t granted authorization by your attempts to access your medical records, they will be turned away by the healthcare facility. It is illegal for the facility to release your private medical records to someone without your consent.

Exceptions to the consent rule established by HIPAA include cases where the patient has suffered an accident or trauma and cannot make medical decisions for themselves, nor have they already authorized an individual to access their medical records. The doctor may discuss treatment and limited information about the person’s medical history to their next of kin, dependent on proper identification.

Other individuals that HIPAA lists as being able to access a portion of your medical records include insurance companies, federal and state governments, and prescription databases. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides further information on HIPAA’s privacy rules.


Can Any Doctor Access My Medical Records?

Doctors are typically considered individuals authorized to access your medical records under HIPAA, and upon visiting a new doctor or being referred to a different doctor from a primary care facility, you will usually be asked to provide your consent that your medical records are shared with this other doctor.

Doctors can only access your medical records legally once they have obtained your consent. Furthermore, doctors are not permitted to look up your medical records unless you have given authorization to have your medical record shared with the doctor.

However, as we mentioned above, special circumstances do exist, such as an accident or trauma that has left a patient without the ability to provide consent. In these cases, doctors that are providing direct treatment and care will typically authorize the patient’s medical records to ensure that no complications are encountered during the current treatment.

It’s important to check with HIPAA directly and any state medical record privacy laws to understand more about your rights in these special circumstances.

The main takeaway from this, though, is that not just any doctor may access your medical records. Only doctors that you have authorized or given your consent to access your medical record can view this private information.


Can I Keep Parts of My Medical Record Private?

Many individuals may be wondering if they can keep certain parts of their medical records private from new doctors. Cases, where this might be applicable, are individuals that want to keep records of previous surgeries away from the eyes of a doctor like an allergist.

This might be possible as part of a ‘blacking-out’ process that protects certain aspects of information from the view of authorized individuals. You will need to consult with HIPAA, state laws, and a legal professional for more information on how to achieve this process and whether or not it is applicable to your situation.


Do Medical Records Show Up in Public Records?

Medical records are private and confidential, and they will not show up in any kind of public record database or public record search.

If you do notice that certain aspects of your medical records are publicly accessible, you might be a victim of unauthorized access to your medical records or illegal medical record disclosures. In these cases, you will most likely need legal assistance as you track down how your medical records were compromised.


Illegal Medical Record Disclosure

If you believe that you are a victim of illegal medical record disclosure, your first step is to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You should also make an effort to note where your medical records have appeared if they are publicly available, and if you suspect they have been leaked via hacking or improper storage by a medical office or healthcare facility.

An attorney specializing in HIPAA and medical privacy laws is your next step for controlling the damage that illegal medical record disclosure causes and pursuing a lawsuit based on this unfortunate event.


Maintaining Your Medical Privacy

Our medical histories are highly personal and deserve to stay private, only accessible by individuals that must know about these items in order to provide care or benefits.

When it comes to your medical privacy, HIPAA provides all the protections you might need and outlines the circumstances in which other authorized individuals might be able to access your medical records. If you need more information surrounding the privacy of your medical records, consult the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website detailing HIPAA.

You should also keep in mind that your medical records won’t be visible on a public record search and illegal medical record disclosure is rare, but not unheard of. Keep an eye on your medical records and consult with a lawyer if you believe your medical records have been accessed inappropriately or otherwise accidentally leaked due to negligence.