The right to inspect and obtain a copy of practically all of your medical records is protected under the law, including your mental health. This applies to any healthcare provider’s records, including those retained by your doctor, psychotherapist, or counselor.
You will typically be required to complete a form or write a letter in order to request a copy of your medical records from your healthcare provider. You have the right to request any records you desire, but healthcare providers are only required to maintain records for a specific period.
Each profession in the healthcare industry has its own set of norms. For example, doctors are required to preserve records for adults for ten years. You may also be required to pay a charge to cover the costs of retrieving your records from them.
According to these laws, a healthcare professional must obtain your permission before sharing your medical records with another party. For instance, your healthcare practitioner must first obtain your permission to share your medical records with your parents. You can complain to the Privacy Office in the US State Department if a healthcare practitioner gives your parents information without your authorization.
Information You Cannot Access
While you have the right to inspect your records, your healthcare provider is not permitted to furnish you with some type of information. These may include the following:
- Suppose a court case or legal investigation is still ongoing; information about it, for example, records from a court-ordered psychological evaluation or an investigation into the Disability Support Program.
- Information that has the potential to harm you or another person gravely. For instance, if you’ve warned your doctor that you’re going to damage yourself badly.
- Information that may jeopardize your therapy. If your doctor understands that specific information makes you furious and violent, they may choose not to provide it to you.
- The name of someone who provided your healthcare provider with private information.
Before handing you the rest of your record, your healthcare practitioner should remove the information you aren’t allowed to read.
A person has the right to access personal health information, including mental health records, under HIPAA. However, there is a distinction between mental health records that are part of a patient’s comprehensive medical record and psychotherapy notes that are treated differently and are not for the patient.
Visit our blog section to learn more about obtaining your mental health records.