While citizens of western countries enjoy medical history privacy, they may be shocked to learn that there are many countries that do not. In the US, they need to fill out a form giving written authorization for other people to access their records.
If they do not fill out this medical release form, as described by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), then no one except their doctor can access their medical information. In other countries, just about anyone can make a phone call and get that information.
To protect your medical history while in the US make sure to learn how to fill out this form correctly. To do that you just keep reading our article.
What Is a Medical Release Form?
This form grants permission to your doctors or hospital to release your medical records, either to you or someone you authorize to receive them. The form has to be valid and it can include a list of family members, friends, clergy or other 3rd parties to get your medical records.
If you do not place their name on the form, then by law, those not listed cannot access your medical history. Also, this form allows for health care providers to share information with your current health care providers so you get the best treatment possible.
When to Use a Medical Release Form
The list for when you do not use this form is far shorter than the one for when you do use it. If the situation does not fall into the following 3 categories, then you need to have this form filled out and signed by you:
- Your medical treatments
- Payment for your medical treatment
- Healthcare operations
At any other time, you should have this form filled out in case there is an emergency or you are incapacitated and can’t fill it out yourself at a later date.
Note: Your doctor or health care provider may charge a fee for copying your records and giving them to authorized people. Sometimes they will withhold transfer of the records until the payment is received. You need to check on your rights and what laws apply to this situation.
The most common situations you will face that needs this form are as follows:
- Insurance company’s requirements
- Continued treatment by a specialist, etc.
- Legal matters
- Employment when employers require pre-employment exams
- Research for clinical trials and medical studies
- Receiving medical marijuana from your doctor
Consequences of Not Using it
The major consequence is that your current doctor or another authorized person will not receive your records. The reason the previous doctor or health care provider does not release those records without that form is that they can be sued by you if they release it without permission.
If you want an orderly and quick transfer of your medical history, make sure to have the form filled out properly and placed in your records.
How to Get Medical Records (For Yourself)
The first thing you should know is that the health care provider, etc., has up to 30 days to release your records. If the release will take longer than that, they must send you a letter explaining why.
Your medical records holder may require the request to be sent to them in writing. Here are the steps for meeting that requirement:
Writing the request
There are 4 sections you must fill out and address when you make a request for your records:
- List who has the records and the person or organization that will receive our medical history
- Provide the dates for release
- Customize the release by stating which records can be sent and which ones should not be sent
- Place an expiration date on the request. That just tells the holder of the record when the request is valid and is done for legal purposes
Sending the request
A simple first-class letter is usually sufficient. However, you should instruct the holder of the record in what method they should use to send those records. This can be through a pdf file, USB drive, CD, and so on.
Receiving the records
If you have not received the information after about a week, you can call and ask why there is a delay. Remember the holder of the record has up to 30 days to comply with your request.
How to Get Medical Records (For Someone Else)
In this situation, there are only three legal ways for you to obtain the medical records on behalf of someone else:
#1. Personal representative
if the patient has given you a medical power of attorney then you are authorized to request their records. Or you are a court-appointed guardian, caregiver, and so on.
#2. Adult or legal guardian of a minor
If you are in either situation then federal law grants you the legal right to request the medical records of any minor under your care. However, different states’ laws may require the minor to give their permission in certain cases.
#3. Executor of an estate
The title has many names and if they have been authorized to act on the deceased person’s behalf, then they can access or request those medical records. The representative must be named in the Will or be court-appointed to handle the affairs of the estate.
What it Includes
When you write your authorization or medical release form, it should include the following specific pieces of information:
- Your name or the name of the person authorized to make the request. Some identification may be required
- Who is to get those records and again some form of ID may be required
- Any specific information that will be selected for disclosure. In other words, be specific as to which records you want to be released
- A statement stating that you will be sharing this information and it is no longer protected. This is called risk of disclosure
- The expiration date or the expiration event that coincides with your situation and purpose for the request
- A statement that reserves your right to revoke the authorization
- Give the purpose for why you are making the request
- A refusal to sign statement
- Your signature and date
How to Write
There is a very simple way to write this authorization or medical records release form.
Step #1: Use your computer or have a friend, relative or lawyer use theirs and download the official HIPPA Form.
Step #2: Fill in all the blanks with the appropriate information. The form is a bit long and asks for a lot of detailed information so be patient as you fill in those blanks
Step #3: Double-check to see that you did not miss a blank and that all the information you filled in is correct
Step #4: Sign and date the form and send it off.
Medical Release Form (Templates)
It is best to take the right steps to protect yourself and your medical records. Make sure you fill out the form and authorize trusted people to access or receive your medical history. These forms only take a few minutes to fill out and then you can have a little peace of mind as your records are protected