Protecting Your Privacy, Part 2: The Importance of Requesting Your Records

HealthLock believes in your right to medical privacy—and while we are here to help you protect it, we also believe there are steps you can take to look after your data. This brings us to the second entry in our Protecting Your Privacy series: the importance of requesting your records. 

Your medical data is more valuable than ever—but as the digital age advances, your data is also more vulnerable than ever. That’s why it’s important for you to take what steps you can to monitor your medical information.

The bad news is that healthcare fraud and medical identity theft are on the rise; in 2020, there were over 600 data breaches that involved 500 or more records, putting the data of thousands of patients at risk. The good news is that you can help make sure your records haven’t been tampered with by keeping an eye on your medical records. 

Why is it so important to request my records?

Reviewing your medical records lets you see your medical history. More importantly, it lets you make sure that it’s your history.

If someone has stolen your medical identity, they may use your healthcare information as their own. This can lead to inaccurate information appearing on your healthcare data. For example, a woman in Salt Lake City had her medical identity stolen when a thief obtained her driver’s license; the thief then went to a hospital and her intake information, including her blood type and drug allergies, effectively overwrote the victim’s. If you notice visits, treatments, prescriptions, descriptions, or procedures that don’t look familiar, it’s time to contact your healthcare provider and start asking questions. 

You may also find honest mistakes. Doctors may make notations in a hurry, or misinterpret things you tell them. If, for example, you suffer from four headaches a month but your record indicates four headaches a day, that’s information that you’ll want corrected. 

It’s not just a matter of protecting yourself from fraud or medical identity theft. It’s also a matter of having the right information on your record. If your medical data is incorrect, your medical providers may draw the wrong conclusions about what kind of care you need, or what medications they should prescribe. An accurate record of your medical history helps everyone.

HIPAA allows you to request and review your medical records at any time.

What happens when I request my medical records?

HIPAA gives you the right to see and obtain a copy of your medical record. If your provider sends it to you in digital format, it may be free; if they need to print off a copy and mail them to you, they may ask you to cover shipping costs.

Typically, your records should be in your hands in either format within 30 days.

Who should I request medical records from?

Any healthcare provider that falls under HIPAA laws is required to provide your medical records when asked. This includes your regular doctor’s office, as well as hospitals and pharmacies. 

Who can request my medical records?

The only people who can ask for and receive your medical records are yourself or your designated personal representative. How you establish a personal representative will depend on your state, so if you’re interested in appointing someone to this role, start looking into it. 

Can I make corrections to my records?

Yes. Under HIPAA laws, if you find errors, you are entitled to correct them. You can send a written “Statement of Disagreement” that will be added to your record. If your healthcare provider does not agree with this change, they still have to include it, but they can note their disagreement.

How else can I help protect my medical data?

If you notice something amiss with your medical record, you can ask your doctor to make a change.

Keeping an eye on your medical records is one thing you can do to make sure your medical privacy stays private. You can also turn to HealthLock.

We take the privacy and security of your medical data seriously. We’ll monitor your bills and your doctors, and provide detailed reports if your data is breached. We can also help protect you from any damage that may occur.

Your medical privacy is important to your health and peace of mind. We’re standing by to help you protect it.