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Consumers medical records

This is Guidance re: Access to PHI for Consumers

Final

Issued by: Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

Issue Date: July 12, 1905

Your Medical Records

Health care professional and medical filesThis guidance remains in effect only to the extent that it is consistent with the court’s order in Ciox Health, LLC v. Azar, No. 18-cv-0040 (D.D.C. January 23, 2020), which may be found at https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2018cv0040-51. More information about the order is available at https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/court-order-right-of-access/index.html. Any provision within this guidance that has been vacated by the Ciox Health decision is rescinded.

The Privacy Rule gives you, with few exceptions, the right to inspect, review, and receive a copy of your medical records and billing records that are held by health plans and health care providers covered by the Privacy Rule.

Access

Only you or your personal representative has the right to access your records.

A health care provider or health plan may send copies of your records to another provider or health plan only as needed for treatment or payment or with your permission. 

The Privacy Rule does not require the health care provider or health plan to share information with other providers or plans.

HIPAA gives you important rights to access - PDF your medical record and to keep your information private.

Charges

A provider cannot deny you a copy of your records because you have not paid for the services you have received. 

However, a provider may charge for the reasonable costs for copying and mailing the records. The provider cannot charge you a fee for searching for or retrieving your records.

Provider’s Psychotherapy Notes

You do not have the right to access a provider’s psychotherapy notes. 

Psychotherapy notes are notes that a mental health professional takes during a conversation with a patient. They are kept separate from the patient’s medical and billing records. HIPAA also does not allow the provider to make most disclosures about psychotherapy notes about you without your authorization.

Corrections

If you think the information in your medical or billing record is incorrect, you can request a change, or amendment, to your record. The health care provider or health plan must respond to your request. If it created the information, it must amend inaccurate or incomplete information. 

If the provider or plan does not agree to your request, you have the right to submit a statement of disagreement that the provider or plan must add to your record.

HHS is committed to making its websites and documents accessible to the widest possible audience, including individuals with disabilities. We are in the process of retroactively making some documents accessible. If you need assistance accessing an accessible version of this document, please reach out to the guidance@hhs.gov.

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this database lack the force and effect of law, except as authorized by law (including Medicare Advantage Rate Announcements and Advance Notices) or as specifically incorporated into a contract. The Department may not cite, use, or rely on any guidance that is not posted on the guidance repository, except to establish historical facts.