Record requests

May 5, 2006

I have a patient who was involved in an automobile accident about three years ago. I never treated her, and, in my records, the only mention of the accident and her subsequent ankle surgery is when she returned nearly a year later for her BP/hyperlipidemia checkup. Despite this, I've received a HIPAA-authorized release from my patient's lawyer, requesting that I send over her medical records from the date of the accident to the present. Must I comply, even though I didn't treat the patient for anything pertaining to the accident itself?

Q: I have a patient who was involved in an automobile accident about three years ago. I never treated her, and, in my records, the only mention of the accident and her subsequent ankle surgery is when she returned nearly a year later for her BP/hyperlipidemia checkup. Despite this, I've received a HIPAA-authorized release from my patient's lawyer, requesting that I send over her medical records from the date of the accident to the present. Must I comply, even though I didn't treat the patient for anything pertaining to the accident itself?

A: Yes. Your patient has the right to access any part of her entire medical record, including those parts that don't pertain directly to her accident, but which could be important to a court or some other entity trying to reach a proper decision. For this reason, as long as the attorney's request has been authorized by your patient-which appears to be the case-you must release all records for the specified time period in your possession.