With the concept of Medical Privacy back in the news, it’s time for Americans to consider how they can and should use their own medical records. The United States Supreme Court starting with Griswold v. Connecticut established an individual right to medical privacy that was then clarified with the privacy rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996(HIPAA). HIPAA specifies limits on access to the medical record, but it also enables the use of the medical record beyond guiding healthcare decisions.
While HIPAA (and follow-on regulations) allow every American to request their own medical records and then make copies to hand out to anybody, prudence suggests that they should be very cautious with who they share this information with. The best policy seems to be to share on a need to know basis. First, ask if the optional disclosure will actually benefit the subject of the records. The first user of the medical record other than a medical practitioner needs to be the subject of the records or their caregiver. A careful reading of the record can spot issues such as an unrecorded allergy. This could have deadly consequences if the person were to receive unknowing medical care while incapacitated by an accident.
A person’s medical record is the best available reference for their own long-term health and also covers health issues of their family members. As such it is considered a goldmine of information for companies that need to judge the risks of dealing with the individual. The extent to which they can acquire this information is governed by a patchwork of federal and state laws. For example, in California, a pre-employment background check can only include medical information if the person consents and the information is relevant to the job.
Beyond employment, there are many other commercial interests that may be considered for disclosure. A life insurance application will only be approved after a careful study of the records. Litigation for disability or other liability may hinge on the clear record of impact on a person’s health. Researchers need medical records in bulk that have been de-identified in order to prove the safety and effectiveness of medicines or other treatments.
Each of these different uses has a different focus on what items in each medical records are the most important. This is why Telegenisys Inc. offers a broad range of medical record summation services tailored to each client’s needs. From medical chronology to disease condition specific summaries we develop documents for medical, pharmaceutical, insurance, and legal uses. For more information on these see https://www.telegenisys.com/medical-summaries/