Who can legally access patient records?

A person’s medical records are privacy protected by New York State’s Public Health Law. Patients are permitted to request access to their own medical records but in order to do so, the health care facility where their doctor is located must consult with the “treating practitioner” to provide those records. The “treating practitioner” is simply the¬†medical professional who is primarily in charge of caring for the patient.

There are certain types of records that may not become accessed by anyone other than the patient themselves. These may include records from substance abuse rehabilitation or mental health facilities, information that was shared with the practitioner in confidentiality, treatment of sexually transmitted infections, abortions, medical treatment information regarding a minor that is not to be shared with the child’s parents.

If the patient is a minor child or they are incapacitated and cannot request these documents on their own, a parent or the person who has been legally granted permission to handle the incapacitated person’s health care is permitted to do so. In some cases, the patient in question may be deceased. In that situation, the executor of their will is in charge of obtaining personal records. Under the law, these persons are known as “qualified persons.” In addition, the patient him or herself is also considered a qualified person.

It is important that patient records remain protected by law in order to maintain a level of confidentiality. If a medical professional makes the decision to breach these confidentiality measures, they may be reprimanded by the Office of Professional Medical Conduct with the potential to have their license to practice suspended or even revoked.

If you require a medical law attorney for your legal matters, call Paul E. Walker, an experienced New York City OPMC & OPD Lawyer. Please contact the Walker Medical Law firm to set up a free initial consultation.