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Should my billing company give patients their records?

Provided by:  Jennifer Kirschenbaum, Esq

September 19, 2017

 

Question:

Jennifer,

I own a billing company and patients call me directly to make payments and also ask for their medical records.  Can I provide the patient their medical record?

Thanks in advance.
J

Answer:

Based on the phrasing of the question I presume for our purposes you operate independently from your medical practice clients.  I will also presume you have a billing services agreement in place that is specific for the services you are rendering to your client – billing services – not custodian of the medical practice’s records.  Custodianship of medical records is the obligation of your client, the medical practice.  It is the medical practice that will have the affirmative obligation to respond to a patient request for release.  Pursuant to HIPAA, as a business associate your access to patient records/protected health information are to be limited to the “minimum necessary”.  Serving as delivery service is not what you have contracted for as your services, and doing so would seemingly open you to potential liability for stepping outside your authorized scope of services.  My advice – direct the patient to the medical practice for record production requests.


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