Requests for Records Must Be in Writing

Q. Can we require all requests for copies of medical records be in writing, even though HIPAA says we must honor oral requests?

A. Yes. In fact, the Texas Medical Practice Act says a consent for release of medical records must be in writing. The written request must specify the information or medical records covered by the release, the reasons or purposes for the release, and the person to whom the information is to be released.

HIPAA says you must honor oral requests for access to or copies of protected health information unless you inform patients that requests must be in writing. Thus you can satisfy both Texas and HIPAA law by so informing patients. Some practices place a statement in their notice of privacy practices that requests for access or copies of medical or billing records must in be writing, according to the TMA white paper, “Medical Records ReleaseMembersOnlyRed.

When you receive a proper written request for release of records and a reasonable copy fee, you have 15 business days to respond under Texas law. (Being more stringent, this time constraint supersedes HIPAA, which gives you 30 days to respond.)

Tip: Designate one day a week, like Friday, to provide records to patients who have filled out a medical records release form that week. That way the patients know directly when they will be able to pick up their record, and you know you’ve completed the request within the required 15 days.

Poorly managed medical records can put your patients’ health — and your practice — at risk. Learn what to watch out for and how to do things right at our Medical Records: Most Wanted Answers seminar series, which begins July 26 in Fort Worth and runs statewide through early October. The instructor is Franklin Hopkins, a former staff attorney at the Texas Medical Board. Also, visit the TMA Medical Records page for tips, sample release form, and white papers. 

Poorly managed medical records can put your patients’ health — and your practice — at risk. Learn what to watch out for and how to do things right at our Medical Records: Most Wanted Answers seminar series, which begins July 26 in Fort Worth and runs statewide through early October. The instructor is Franklin Hopkins, a former staff attorney at the Texas Medical Board. Also, visit the TMA Medical Records resource centers for tips, sample release form, and white papers.

Published July 12, 2016

 
 TMA Practice E-Tips main page

Last Updated On

December 06, 2016

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