Health records, or medical records, contain information about a person’s previous medical treatments, conditions, and medical history. While such information can be very helpful in some instances, this is considered very private information, and is subject to very strict medical record privacy laws

A person’s health records may be consulted or required in various circumstances. For instance, when it comes to job applications or immigration applications, the applicant may need to supply access to their health records. In a personal injury context, health records may be needed in cases where the victim has a pre-existing medical condition. 

What Is a Health Record Privacy Dispute?

Subject to certain exceptions, a person’s health records are private and can’t be released without the person’s permission. For instance, a hospital or health care institution cannot sell, disclose, or release private medical records without the patient’s knowledge or consent. Accessing medical records is very strictly controlled, especially if it’s going to be used in a personal injury lawsuit.

One exception may be where the patient’s identifying information is redacted (i.e., blacked out), in a way that the person cannot be identified. This type of information may sometimes be used, for instance for research purposes. However, on the whole, health records cannot be accessed without the person’s permission.

Various laws have reinforced privacy rights in regards to health records. An example of this is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which helps guarantee security of personal health records. 

What Are Some Legal Remedies in a Health Record Privacy Dispute?

Violations of privacy rights must usually be remedied through a civil lawsuit.  In such a case, a damages award may be issued in order to compensate the plaintiff for losses caused by the violation. A common example is where the improper disclosure of health records causes a person to lose a personal injury suit. 

Upon discover of the abuse of privacy rights, it may be necessary to file an appeal in order to review the use of the medical records. Another example is where the improper disclosure of medical information causes the plaintiff to suffer physical injury (for instance, if prescription medicine information is abused). Here, damages may cover losses for medical treatment and other losses resulting from the abuse of privacy. 

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Health records can sometimes be a vital aspect of many personal injury claims. You may need to hire a personal injury lawyer if you need assistance with any privacy rights in regards to health records. Your attorney can review your records to determine whether a violation may have occurred. Also, your lawyer will be able to provide you with valuable legal representation throughout the course of litigation.