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HIPAA Regulations and a Patient’s Right to Access Health Information

MCN Question of the Week

HIPAA Regulations and a Patient’s Right to Access Health Information


Where can I find more information on a patient’s right to access his/her health information?


You are in luck.  The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCS) just released a fact sheet and series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) designed to clarify individuals’ core right under HIPAA to access and obtain a copy of their health information.

According to OCR, the right of individuals to access and receive a copy of their health information from doctors, hospitals and health insurance plans is critical to enabling individuals to take ownership of their health and well-being.  Unfortunately, recent studies and OCR’s enforcement experience has demonstrated that, far too often individuals face obstacles to accessing their health information, even from entities required to comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

The new fact sheet reviews an individual’s right under HIPAA to access his/her health information.  The set of FAQs addresses:

  • The scope of information covered by HIPAA’s access right
  • The very limited exceptions to this right
  • The form and format in which information is provided to individuals
  • The requirement to provide access to individuals in a timely manner, and the intersection of HIPAA’s right of access with the requirements for patient access under the HITECH Act’s Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program.

OCR plans to develop additional guidance and other tools as necessary to ensure that individuals understand and can exercise their right to access their health information.

Related Products from MCN:

HIPAA Guidelines Policy and Procedure Manual



Regulatory Compliance Solutions for Healthcare Organizations,
Including Policy Management Software, Policy Library Templates,
StayAlert! – Regulatory Alert System, and Learning Management System


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