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Why would I need to share my medical information?

There are many reasons why you might want to allow someone else to access your personal medical information.

If you're a patient, you'll need to give your personal health information to a doctor, hospital, or health care provider so they can provide you with the proper care. Or, in some cases, they may need your authorization to share your health data with a lawyer, if that information needs to be used for legal purposes.

For example, if you're pursuing an injury claim, you might grant your attorney access to your health information to prove your injury wasn't preexisting. You may also want to grant permission to a healthcare representative to question your doctor about a bill if you are hospitalized or incapacitated.

How does a HIPAA Authorization Form help share my information?

It's easy for you to grant someone access to your private medical records. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 was put in place to help ensure privacy and yet ease of access to your medical records.

A HIPAA Authorization Form is a document that allows a medical provider to share specific health information with another person or group. This can be a doctor, a hospital, or a health care provider, as well as lawyers, mental health professionals, or another similar professional. That health information could be medical records, drug or alcohol treatments, or other records.  

How much of my information is shared and who it is shared with?

Don't worry, your entire medical background won't be revealed unless it absolutely has to be, and you allow it. Information in a HIPAA Authorization Form is "protected information." Protected information includes your name, address, phone number, social security number, as well as the specific health information described in the document.

It is important to note that HIPAA uses a standard of "minimum necessary." This means that your doctor or healthcare provider can only provide information that is needed to accomplish the intended purpose.

In other words, HIPAA provides a safeguard against the number of people that can view your personal information and how much they can view. However, bear in mind that multiple people in a hospital may have access to your information to properly carry out your medical care.

What is not protected by HIPAA?

Certain things are beyond your control and cannot be protected by HIPAA. For example, if your doctor or health care provider is required to disclose medical information to federal, state, or local authorities, they must do so. Additionally, HIPAA does not apply to information you share with people who are not medical or healthcare providers.

Also, if you are exposed to a disease that could spread to others, your doctor may be required to notify the appropriate health officials. Often, these types of disclosure requirements do not include personally identifying information.

What do I need to include in my HIPAA Authorization Form?

When filling out a HIPAA Authorization Form, state who you are and exactly to whom you are disclosing your health information (doctor, hospital, or other healthcare provider). Under the Privacy Act of HIPAA laws, you must include a description of the information being disclosed. You may also want to include a specific time period to cover for the records or information. This way, you can specifically describe what information should be revealed, in case there is a violation of your privacy. Additionally, you may set an expiration date so whomever you allow to share the information can only do so for a limited period of time.

If you have more questions about HIPAA Authorization Forms, or the privacy of your medical records, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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