Health Information Management

HIPAA Q&A: Authorization on release of records

HIM-HIPAA Insider, February 22, 2010

Q. We are an urgent care and specialty clinic facility. Our pharmacy asks patients to sign an authorization to release form when requesting copies of their records. The pharmacy also asks patients to present a photo ID. Some patients complain about the required signature and say that other pharmacies do not require a signature for copies of their pharmacy record. Our pharmacy director wants to know whether HIPAA requires patients to sign an authorization to release form when requesting copies of their records.

A.
The privacy rule does not require patients to sign an authorization form to obtain copies of their records. However, a covered entity may request that patients make such requests in writing if it explains this requirement in its notice of privacy practices. It is reasonable to ask patients to provide a photo ID to obtain copies of their records, but there is no requirement that they sign an authorization to do so.

Editor’s note: Mary D. Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS, answered this question. This is not legal advice. Consult your attorney regarding legal matters. Brandt is a nationally recognized expert on patient privacy, information security, and regulatory compliance and is associate executive director of Health Information Management (HIM) at Scott & White Healthcare in Temple, TX. Some of her publications were used as a basis for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 privacy regulations.

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