Your Data Privacy Rights as a Patient

The Health Insurance and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) has been providing federal protections for your medical information since 1996. Under HIPAA, you are the driver of how your healthcare provider uses your medical information. It is thus important that you know your medical privacy rights and your healthcare provider’s responsibilities when it comes to your medical information.

As a patient, you have the right, among others, to:

  • Decide if you want your care provider to talk about your medical information in front of your family or friends, or if you would like to talk in private
  • Decide if you want your family or friends to see your medical record or if you want us to keep it private
  • Request access to, or a copy of, your medical record, or authorize that we provide a copy of your medical record to another person or company
  • Request that we amend your medical record if you believe it is wrong or request that we place a written correction in your medical record if we cannot amend your medical record
  • Tell us how you want to be contacted or request that we restrict the way that we contact you
  • File a complaint with the facility or provider that treated you or with the Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights

Ernest uses your medical information, as allowed by HIPAA, in a number of ways that assist us, and others, in providing care for you. Some of the ways that HIPAA allows us to use your medical information when providing care are:

  • For your treatment and care coordination
  • To pay doctors and hospitals for your health care
  • With your family, relatives, friends, or others you identify who are involved with your health care or your health care bills, unless you tell us not to
  • To make sure doctors give good care and nursing homes are clean and safe
  • To protect the public’s health, such as by reporting when the flu is in your area
  • To make required reports to the police, such as reporting gunshot wounds

There are certain times when HIPAA requires that we ask you before we share your medical information. Some of the times we are required to ask for your permission before sharing your medical information include:

  • Before we share your medical information with your employer
  • Before we use or share your medical information for certain research purposes
  • Before we use or share your medical information for marketing or advertising purposes

In order to ensure that your medical privacy is protected according to your wishes, it is important to know your privacy rights as a patient and to inform your healthcare providers of how you want your medical information used or shared. It is also important that you review your medical records periodically to ensure that they are complete and accurate. Should you identify what you believe to be an error in your medical record, you should contact the healthcare provider that authored the medical information to find out how to request amendment to your medical information.

Knowing your medical privacy rights puts the power in your hands to control who can see and hear your medical information, as well as how your healthcare providers can use and share your medical information!

*For more information on how Ernest uses and shares patient medical information please request a copy of your Ernest facility’s Notice of Privacy Practices.

Angelique Culver, Esq. has been an Attorney for 15 years, specializing in Healthcare Compliance and the privacy and security of patient information for last 9 years.  She is the Chief Compliance and HIPAA Officer for Vibra Healthcare.  She has long been an advocate for patients’ rights, serving as a member of the bio-ethics committee of an urban academic medical center and the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Health Information Exchange Legal/Ethical Workgroup.  She currently serves on the Board of Directors for WITF, Inc., a Central Pennsylvania public broadcasting company committed to increasing cultural access and knowledge, extending public education, and strengthening community life through all channels and platforms, including broadcasting, online, social media, print, and in person events.