Patient’s Guide to HIPAA – Basic Rights: What Happens When a Covered Entity Agrees to Make an Amendment?

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You are reading the Patient’s Guide to HIPAA, FAQ 33

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FAQ 33: What Happens When a Covered Entity Agrees to Make an Amendment?

The covered entity that agrees to make an amendment must:

• Make the amendment;

• Tell the requester what it did; and

• Make reasonable efforts to inform others about the amendment within a reasonable time.

The third requirement is most noteworthy. If you convince a covered entity to amend your record, the covered entity must tell any persons that you identify who received the original incorrect information and who need the amendment. In addition, the covered entity must notify any persons who have the information that was the subject of the amendment and who may have relied or could foreseeably rely on the information.

To make sure that amendments have been appropriately distributed, you may want to ask for an accounting of disclosures. The right to receive an accounting is explained elsewhere in this guide. (See FAQs 37-44.)  What is important is that amendments be provided to those who may rely on the original incorrect information. Each patient has the right to tell a covered entity to send the amendment to anyone who received the original information and needs the information.

Be sure to ask that any amended information that bears on your future medical treatment be shared with other providers. Similarly, be sure to ask that amended information that bears on insurance and payment matters is shared with insurers and, possibly, with employers. The goal is to find and eliminate any incorrect information that others have and that may affect you adversely.

It may take considerable effort to make sure that every appropriate person has the information and that those with the information correct their own records. Every covered entity must act when it receives a notice of amendment, but that doesn’t mean that it will be done quickly or properly. It may be appropriate to ask each covered entity that received an amendment to confirm that it actually made the amendment. You may have to request a copy of your record from that covered entity to be certain. Should you do all of this? It may depend how important the information is to your future treatment.

Be aware of any Health Information Exchanges that may impact where your records are located. For example, covered entities in some states exchange electronic health records through a third party called a Health Information Exchange. Ask about the presence of an exchange or network so you can locate all of the copies of your records. As health records and health networks expand, some aspects of seeing and amending records may become easier.  But some things may be harder, especially if no entity has clear responsibility for a health record. This is an evolving area, and there may be a lot of learning for everyone to do.

 

 

Roadmap: Patient’s Guide to HIPAA: Part 2: Basic Patient Rights: Right to Request Amendment (FAQ 33 of 65)

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