February 11, 2016

OCR Announces Guidance on Individual's Right to Access Health Information Under HIPAA

On January 7, 2016, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Health and Human Services released a fact sheet and the first of a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to explain an individual’s rights under HIPAA to access and obtain a copy of his or her own health information. OCR strongly expressed its opinion that an individual’s right to access one’s own records is “critical to enabling individuals to take ownership of their health and well-being.” In addition, OCR explained that empowering individuals with their own health “is a key component of health reform and the movement to a more patient-centered health care system.” Prompting the OCR action were recent studies and OCR enforcement experience making clear that individuals too frequently face barriers from HIPAA-covered entities when trying to access their personal health information.

The guidance summarizes an individual’s right to access his or her own health information and to provide access to others. In addition, the guidance explains how individuals can request access to their health information and when access can be denied. The FAQs further expand on these topics. Access the guidance, including the FAQs.

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