Private medical records are private for a reason, and that privacy is protected by state and federal laws, as it should be. However, there are certain situations where even medical records retrieval can and often is considered to be legally justified. As we take a brief look through the various scenarios which allow for such exemptions, the usefulness of popular medical records retrieval services should become more apparent. It should also become apparent that the security is not as paramount as it is thought to be.
When You are a Doctor or any Other Allied Medical Professional
Doctors, nurses, insurers, the government, and any allied medical professional/provider/payer can use a records retrieval service to get hold of their patients’/clients’ medical information, but there are very strict HIPAA rules which even they must abide by. However, the patient could at any point restrict access to their private medical records from being shared with any other party. If they do not restrict them, or knowledgeably allow them to share their medical data, the possibilities are limited largely by the clauses of what they agree to.
When You are the Patient
Every patient of sound mind reserves the right to make copies of their medical records, or ask for retrieval of the same via a hospital/insurance company’s database. In fact, they do not need anyone’s permission, and can use a medical records retrieval service on their own, but only as long as they are the patients themselves.
When You are the Guardian/Caretaker
The only exception to the above rule would be observed when a person is granted access to another patient’s medical records because they happen to be the registered parent/guardian/caretaker of the concerned patient. This is common in the case of minors, disabled individuals, and adult patients who have officially given the concerned guardian/caregiver the right to do so legally. Seniors after a certain age may often decide to take such a step, especially if they are diagnosed with early signs of Alzheimer’s or any other neurodegenerative disease.
When the MIB Decides to Look into Your Medical Records
The Medical Information Bureau (MIB) is above HIPAA directives, so they can access any individual’s records without any restrictions. However, they are supposed to play a more patient-centric role in protecting data privacy.
As should be clear by now, medical records retrieval laws are not that difficult to get past, which is an area for concern. There might be additional entities who are also legally allowed to access a patient’s EHR through association with any of the above. Unfortunately, there are also illegal ways to hack and steal medical records without anyone’s permission or notice. Cybersecurity is getting better by the day, of course, but so are the cybercriminals it seems. Combining cybercrimes with accidental leaks, the security of private medical data is certainly not as secure as it should be. There are laws to prevent that, but loopholes, accidents, and careless acts are far more common than they should be in 2020. Medical data may have become more universally accessible in this digital age, but a lot is still left to be desired in terms of security and privacy.