Update on new CMS guidelines about patient access to their records

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently published new HIPAA guidelines clarifying the rights of patients to access their medical records.  The guidelines, as is typical for CMS, are pretty dense and detailed, but the New York Times published a more easily digested summary, “New Guidelines Nudge Doctors to Give Patients Access to Medical Records,” on 1-16-16. The article notes several benefits for providing patients access to their records, and also that complaints about being denied access to medical records are common.  The new CMS guidelines prevent health care providers from requiring a reason for the request, requiring that records be picked up in person, and denying access to records due to unpaid bills.

These guidelines, in addition to previous CMS patient protection guidelines, will increase access to medical records.  It is advisable to document with this in mind – to document as though everything may be read by your patient/client.

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