Q:

Who owns a patients medical records?

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Quick Answer

The laws dictating who owns medical records vary by state, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In some states, the physical documents are the property of the health care provider. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services requires that patients have access to all information on medical records.

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Full Answer

Some states have no laws pertaining to the ownership of medical records, while most states deem medical records the property of the health care providers, as detailed by the Robert Wood Johnson Association. In states where physical records are the property of the health care providers, like Texas for example, the actual documents are the property of the clinicians, but the information on them is to remain accessible to the patients, according to the Texas Medical Association.

The Federal Privacy Rule mandates that patients cannot be denied access to their medical records due to failure to pay the cost of care, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. In addition, though a doctor's office may own records, they are not allowed to transfer them to another doctor or entity without patient authorization. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services also states that the patient has the right to receive copies of medical records under the Privacy Rule.

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