I have said this before and I will say it again; I am all for patient privacy when it doesn’t get in the way of the patient’s medical needs. Once again, a client was given an absurd refusal to obtain much needed medical records.
This client was waiting for biopsy results and had to travel across the country on business. He received a voicemail asking to call the clinic for results. He was told he had cancer (need I comment on this way of delivering news?). He then asked to be sent a copy of the pathology and MRI report . The clinic said no. He asked to have it faxed or emailed. The clinic said no. He asked to speak with a supervisor and was told no. He explained he wanted to have it to get a second opinion at a recognized cancer center and he was told no.
A family member called and asked me, at his request, to resolve this issue. Being the HIPAA expert and having little tolerance for stupid HIPAA made up institutional barriers, I was happy to give the clinic a call.
I understand most healthcare people don’t have a clear grasp on the HIPAA regulations and parameters of medical records release. I see my role as an advocate to clear the blocks by patiently reiterating the rules and seeking a solution. The bottom line for me is that HIPAA was designed for the patient to have access to their records in a timely manner.
I called the clinic and had a pleasant discussion with two administrators. My impression was the clinic did not have a protocol for this type of situation. It seemed to have created an unnecessary panic. The compromise was my client would fill out a medical release, indicate a secure fax number and time the papers could be sent, and have a clear signature. It took 24 hours to get the papers.
I am lucky enough to be a part of a health network that has patient access to reports and labs. At any time, I can get this information and print it. I would like to see all clinics and offices have a system for easier access to information. This would eliminate some of the absurd refusals in the name of HIPAA.