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HHS Issues Guidance on Patient Access to Medical Records

In recent documents on the responsibilities of covered entities and the rights of individuals under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reiterated the right of patients to access their medical records.

In a fact sheet and an updated frequently asked questions document, HHS noted that

  • covered entities (providers and health plans) must provide protected health information (PHI) to an individual within 30 calendar days of a request, and an individual may request that the health information be provided in a format of his or her choosing – electronic or paper-based;
  • fees charged by a covered entity for a copy of PHI must be reasonable and based on the cost of labor and supplies needed to copy the records, and providers may not charge a fee for an individual to access a certified electronic health record; and
  • individuals can make a request in writing that their health information be shared with a third party of their choice.

Contact Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at eomalley@essentialhospitals.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.

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About the Author

Shahid Zaman is a senior policy analyst at America's Essential Hospitals.

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