Your Rights to Your Medical Records under Arizona Law

Did you know that under Arizona law you have a right to access your medical records? 

Medical records, also known as health records, are an important thing to have because it gives you better knowledge about your own care, including how to approach certain medical decisions. 

Thankfully, the federal law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule gives all U.S. citizens the right to see and obtain a copy of their health records. Under this federal law you also have the right to not only access the information but also to make corrections as needed. 

Most health care plans and providers – including doctor’s, clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, labs, and nursing homes – must follow this law. If a standard in Arizona law conflicts with a standard in the HIPAA Privacy Rule, your health care provider must follow the law that is the most protective of your rights.  

What the Arizona Law Entitles You To With Medical Records

An important component of this law is that the privacy of a patient’s medical records is protected by both federal and state laws. Arizona’s laws keep all privileged patient medical records confidential, unless needed by pharmacists. Arizona law entitles you to:

  • Right to Access Your Medical Record: You have the right to see and get a copy of your medical record within 30 days of your initial request. It’s up to the discretion of the health care provider whether to charge you a fee for copying your record. 
  • Right to Amend Your Record: You also have the right to correct your medical record by adding information to it to make it more complete or accurate.  
  • File a Complaint: If you believe that a health care provider has violated your right to see, get a copy of, or amend your medical record, you have the right to file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can also file a complaint with the state agency that regulates your health care provider. 

How to Request a Copy of Your Medical Records

While everyone has the same right to access their medical records, how you request them can vary, depending on the health care provider. Many providers now have online patient portals where you can access your records on demand, make appointments or message your provider directly. 

If your provider does not have an online portal, you’d need to fill out a form or request the records by phone or email. 

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created a free guide to walk people through the process of getting your health records. The guide walks you through how to:

  • Narrow Down What You Need: You’ll need to know whether to access all or only part of your records, the number of copies as well as your preference with paper or electronic records. 
  • Submit a Request: This will include how to make a request from your health care provider along with information on how to fill out their form. 
  • Make Corrections: You’ll learn how to find and fix mistakes in your health record, including what to look for and how to have a mistake fixed. 
  • Use Your Health Information: Know what to look for in a health app as well as how to manage your information through your phone or tablet. 

Can My Doctor Refuse My Request?

There are limited circumstances where a doctor has a legal right to deny your request. Arizona law says that a doctor can refuse a request if he or she determines that:

  1. Releasing your records would likely endanger the life or physical safety of a patient or another person.
  2. If your records make reference to a person other than a healthcare professional and would likely cause substantial harm to that other person, or if the records would likely cause substantial harm to the patient, or if they would reveal information obtained under a promise of confidentiality with someone other than a healthcare professional.

If a doctor does refuse your request, it must be noted in your medical records and he or she must provide you with a written explanation of the reason for denying.

Confused by Your Medical Records Rights? We Can Help.

The laws surrounding patients’ rights to privacy and access to their medical records are frequently changing. If you need help understanding any of this and wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced Tucson personal injury lawyer, contact us today.