The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law protecting patient health information from being disclosed without a patient’s consent. The Privacy rule protects patient’s protected health information (PHI) disclosed to other parties. Health providers must maintain the security and privacy of patient information while providing medical treatment and coordinating care.
HIPPA forms are used within the medical community during coordination of care between providers. For instance, your primary care provider has you sign a HIPPA form for their records. If you go to your primary care provider for an exam and need a referral to a specialist, the specialist will then need to sign a HIPPA form for their file. This allows the providers to communicate about your medical treatment while maintaining privacy of records.
When a patient needs to release protected health information and medical treatment to an outside entity, like a law firm, a medical release form must be presented. This form provides the patient the opportunity to allow release of medical information while maintaining the security of the information. Depending upon the type of information to be released, such as mental health records or addiction treatment, an additional authorization may be required.
Attorneys representing clients in cases involving personal injury, medical malpractice, Social Security Disability, Workers’ Compensation, to name a few areas, all need access to medical records to support their patient’s claims. Before protected health information and medical treatment records are shared with the attorney, a signed medical authorization must be given to the medical provider. The provider will then release the information, securely, to the attorney as specified by the patient. The provider will only release the information specified by the patient. The authorization remains in effect for the time designated by the patient/client.
The medical information released to the attorney is only used to support the case at hand. When medical records and information is shared with other attorneys involved in the case (in a personal injury or medical malpractice case) or with governmental entities (in Social Security matters) the information remains protected.
Due to the sensitive nature of medical records and the personal information contained therein, it is extremely important to maintain security of records. HIPPA protects the patient and ensures the information remains secure when shared among providers and attorneys.
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