Can My Medical Records Be Released?
Whether you are seeking compensation for your injuries through litigation or the insurance claims process, your medical records are crucial evidence of your case.
While sharing your medical records with another party or their insurance company can help you substantiate your damages, you do not want to release aspects of your medical history that could reduce your award.
The key is to maintain control over your medical records, and allow adverse parties to access only the medical information that directly pertains to your claim.
Medical Records Are Released Through HIPAA Requests
HIPAA is the acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a law that provides standards for the confidentiality of medical records.
It allows care providers to:
- Charge fees for processing and copying your records
- Restrict the viewing of records to your medical provider’s office
- Apply any other reasonable restrictions
HIPAA dictates that medical care providers cannot release your records to anyone (including yourself) unless you submit a formal request. You usually can’t revoke an authorization to release your medical records, so you should read the wording of a release with close attention before signing it.
Be Carefully When Signing a Medical Records Release Form
Whether you’re dealing with your own insurance company or that of an-fault driver, you’ll need to provide proof of your injuries to receive compensation. Medical records provide an objective account of these injuries, and can be helpful in substantiating your insurance claim.
But your medical information can also help the other side. Insurance claims adjusters will sometimes attempt to have you sign a broad medical release form. That way, they can dig through your entire medical history and find evidence they can use to reduce your settlement.
For example, if you’re seeking compensation for back pain, the insurance adjuster might try to find evidence of treatment for back pain occurring prior to the accident. This is important because you can only recover for damages actually caused by the accident.
You can avoid this situation by ensuring that the release form applies only to medical records that have to do with the accident. Better yet, you can fill out your own medical records release form, sort through the documents yourself, and then provide the insurance company with the information they need to process your claim.