Medical Record Confidentiality

According to law, you may bring suit against anyone who divulges your medical records without your consent. Most physicians, including us, do not want to defend such a suit in court, so we are obsessive about protecting your privacy. With two exceptions listed below, we do not release records without your signed release. We shred unneeded information such as used laboratory requests to prevent sensitive information of any kind from reaching our trash bins.

Furthermore, we know that in a small town such as ours, we cannot hide any indiscretions. The livelihood of everyone in this office depends upon leaving office matters at the office. In addition, all staff members sign an agreement to respect your confidentiality as a requirement of continued employment.

The federal and state governments do maintain a right to inspect medical records of anyone on Medicare, Medicaid, or any other governmental insurance program. Every HMO of which we are aware makes similar demands. We do not participate in such programs. Even though the government talks about guarantees of health-care confidentiality, their actions are the opposite, and the current federal legislature is eroding your rights of privacy, not protecting it as their slogans suggest.

Most insurance companies may require access to your medical records in order to pay claims, but all companies need your agreement. Again, we never release medical records without your signature or verbal OK.

We are required by law to inform you that ...

We keep a record of the health care services we provide you. You may ask us to see and copy that record. You may also ask us to correct that record. We will not disclose your record to others unless you direct us to do so or unless the law authorizes or compels us to do so (see below). Ask our receptionist if you would like to see your record or get more information.

Exceptions to the rule of medical records privacy are

  1. You appear to be a danger to yourself or others, or
  2. You have a contagious illness that we are required to report to the Washington State Department of Health.

In both cases, we are required to disclose only necessary information. Any health authorities (such as Child or Adult Protective Services) are also required to protect your privacy.