Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Medical Record Access, Release, and Retention
HIPAA and state laws require patient health information (PHI) release in a manner that supports access and protects privacy. Because medical malpractice lawsuit defense depends so heavily on evidence preserved in the patient’s medical record, appropriate medical record retention is a major aspect of medical liability risk management. Although medical ethics requirements for medical record access, retention, and release are general, they can nudge decisions where the law is ambiguous. This month’s Claims Rx presents a sample of NORCAL Group insureds’ questions about medical record release, access, and retention, the answers provided by NORCAL Group Risk Management Specialists, and resources for further information.
QUESTION ONE Can copies of a murder suspect’s medical record be released to law enforcement without a warrant?
QUESTION TWO Can we provide a former physician employee with former patient PHI?
QUESTION THREE Can we release information about cause of death to a person claiming to be the sister of a deceased patient?
QUESTION FOUR Can we send a decedent’s PHI to a third party at the request of his wife?
QUESTION FIVE Must the entire medical record transferred from another practice be retained?