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Apr
25

HIPAA Q&A: Entitlement of records

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Q. When is Adult Protective Services (APS) entitled to copies of a patient’s medical record without a signed authorization?

An adult patient was transferred from a hospital to our skilled nursing facility for long-term care. Prior to transfer, the hospital social worker called APS with a concern that family members were neglecting the patient and using the patient’s money for their own benefit. APS then came to our facility asking to review the patient’s medical record.

A. APS and Child Protective Services have authority under state law to obtain the information they need to investigate cases under their jurisdiction. Because APS has an open investigation in this case, the caseworker has legal authority to review the patient’s medical record or obtain copies without authorization from the patient or the patient’s legal representative.

Editor’s note: Mary D. Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS, a nationally recognized expert on patient privacy, information security, and regulatory compliance, answered this question. She is associate executive director of Health Information Management (HIM) at Scott & White Healthcare in Temple, TX. Some of her publications were used as a basis for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 privacy regulations.  

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