Medical histories can be intensely personal, and the United States has many laws protecting patients from unintentional or malicious use of their individual medical records. However, there are instances in which the patient, their loved ones, or their doctors might need access to this information, which involves a medical records release form.
More Information on Medical Release Forms
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, better known as HIPAA, was enacted by the United States Congress in 1996 to allow patients to limit access to their medical records, whether by doctors, insurance companies, relatives, or anyone else. The act is most known for protecting health insurance when an employee transfers or loses their job, but the act also offers several personal protections to prevent misuse or unapproved release of medical information or histories. If a patient goes in for medical treatment, there are certain professionals, such as doctors and nurses, as well as some loved ones who help the patient through treatment, who may need access to the patient’s medical information at some time. The patient can sign special documents that state they know their information may be accessed by specific individuals, which they sign. Permission to access health information may be revoked by the patient at any time.
Specific diagnoses or job transfers mean that a patient may need to transfer their medical records, and this is where medical records release forms are most often used. Patients sign this document to transfer previous medical information to new general practitioners, ophthalmologists, dentists, orthopedists, oncologists, or any other medical professional they may need to see.
In some cases, if a patient files a malpractice suit, they will need to sign a medical records release form so that both plaintiff’s and defense attorneys may review the information as part of the legal “discovery” stage. This is the stage of a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in which both sides review as much information about the case as possible, which would include medical records noting treatment, from the doctor who caused the malpractice injury, to the doctors the patient went to later for additional treatment.
If a patient is undergoing psychiatric or behavioral treatment, these records qualify as medical records and are protected from uninformed release under HIPAA laws.
Elements of a Medical Release Form:
Medical records release forms often include the following information:
• Patient name, birthdate, social security number, and other “identifiers”
• Name of provider organization disclosing the information (aka, the hospital or doctor’s office with the records)
• Name of the person or organization receiving the medical information
• Description of the information being released (chemotherapy history, dental history, etc)
• Description of why the information is being released (transfer to new specialist, for example)
• Patient’s signature, authorizing transfer of the medical information
Why Should I Use a Medical Release Form Template?
In many cases, patients specify which medical information they would like released, which protects other medical records. For example, a patient may need to see a specialized oncologist, and transfers records from their other oncologist’s office, but does not release information on psychiatric treatment to the new oncologist.
Our medical records release form offers you a blank template for download, which you can use to be sure you include all necessary information, and do not offer information without the patient’s permission.