Medical records typically contain personal information that care providers must keep private in accordance with federal and state law. In most cases, only patients and their care providers may access these records without written permission.
Although most of these rules come from federal laws like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, there are Kentucky state laws that also dictate how care providers should handle these records. The following are some of the general rules healthcare organizations in Kentucky must know and understand:
- Access: The patient and his or her medical provider always have access to medical records. However, a patient may choose to release these records to another party, such as a spouse, the Social Security Administration or a military recruiter, by signing a release form.
- Mandatory reporting: There are some diseases the state of Kentucky requires care providers to immediately report to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. However, the cabinet must keep this information confidential, and it will not be available in public records requests.
- Privileges: Counselor-patient and psychotherapist-patient privileges may apply to medical records in Kentucky, which means patients could prevent counselors or psychiatrists who know about their medical background from disclosing it or testifying about their mental or physical health.
- Protective orders: Physicians, hospitals or patients in Kentucky may ask to limit or entirely prohibit the use of medical records via protective orders, which they must obtain through a court. Conversely, patients may also waive their right to privacy of their medical records, giving certain people access to them.
- HIV/AIDS: Kentucky has specific rules regarding the testing and disclosure of HIV and AIDS. Each local public health department provides anonymous or confidential testing for HIV, along with counseling services for people who test positive for these diseases. There are limitations to the disclosure of these test results.
For more information on the rules Kentucky care providers must follow with regard to medical records, contact a skilled healthcare law attorney with Hemmer DeFrank Wessels, PLLC.