How to Obtain a Copy of Your Medical Records in South Carolina
Medical records play a vital role in every South Carolina personal injury claim. In order to obtain compensation from an insurer, accident victims must provide proof of their injuries. Medical records can show the type of injuries suffered, how they were treated, and doctors’ opinions about the patient’s prognosis for the future.
Why Would I Want My Medical Records?
By law, you can request a copy of your medical records at any time for any reason. You may be moving and want to give the records to your new health care provider. You may want to review the records for accuracy or check for basic information about drug allergies. Or, as many accident victims find, they need the records to dispute challenges from the insurance company about the severity of their injuries.
Who Can Access My Medical Records?
The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) places privacy restrictions on a patient’s health information in all forms. South Carolina also has laws that protect an individual’s medical records from being disclosed without authorization.
Generally speaking, the only parties that can access your medical records are:
- A legal guardian
- Another party that you have consented to have access to your records, such as a caregiver or representative
If you were injured in an accident, an insurance company may ask you for permission to see your medical records. Don’t give it to them without talking to a lawyer first. Here’s why:
The insurer will need to see certain medical records to process your claim. But they are only entitled to limited information related specifically to the incident. If you aren’t careful, you could accidentally give them access to your entire medical history. This can turn into a problem if the insurer finds that you had pre-existing conditions that could somehow be connected to your injuries. They may try to claim your injuries were the result of your pre-existing condition, not the accident itself.
How Do I Get My Medical Records?
Health care providers have different procedures for managing record requests. Some may require you to fill out specific forms. Others may allow you to submit your request electronically, by phone, or by fax. You’ll need to call to find out what the process is for your provider’s office.
If you submit your own request in writing, make sure to include:
- Records sought
- Preferred format
- Social Security Number
- Date of birth
- Email address
What to Do If You Are Denied Access to Your Medical Record
Under HIPAA, covered entities are not required to disclose psychotherapy notes or information relating to a civil, criminal, or administrative proceeding. Providers may also deny a request for a patient’s full medical record if they believe that seeing the history could endanger the patient or others. In those cases, South Carolina law requires healthcare providers to provide a summary of the medical records to the patient. The patient is also entitled to have a different health care provider to review the decision.
Need Your Medical Records? Contact Us Today
Having trouble obtaining your medical records after an accident? Get help from the experienced personal injury attorneys at Stewart Law Offices. Call or contact us today to schedule a free consultation.