Patient’s Guide to HIPAA – Basic Rights: Why Should I Care about Accounting of Disclosures?




You are reading the Patient’s Guide to HIPAA, FAQ 38. 

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FAQ 38: Why Should I Care about Accounting of Disclosures?

Many patients won’t care, and that is okay. However, the accounting of disclosures can be crucial in some instances. You may want to ask for an accounting if you think that your records were improperly disclosed, if you think that you may be a victim of medical identity theft, or even if you are just curious about the circulation of your medical records. Be warned, however, that if you ask for an accounting, the response is likely to undermine whatever faith you had that your medical information is confidential. Records may be disclosed to other institutions that have nothing to do with your treatment or the payment for your treatment.

The accounting of disclosures will be invaluable if you need to follow the trail of your information and learn who has information about you. If you corrected your record through the amendment process, the accounting should allow you to find out who received the original information and who received the corrected information. It provides a way for you to tell whether the covered entity properly distributed the amendment.

The accounting may reveal some disclosures that are normal (e.g., to your health plan). You may also learn that the covered entity disclosed your records to a researcher, public health agency, or government auditor. These disclosures may not have any immediate consequences for you, but you may be either interested to know about the disclosures or unhappy that they occurred.

However, if you learn that your records were disclosed to law enforcement or health oversight agencies, you might have reason to worry that the information disclosed will be used against you in some manner. By learning the purpose of each disclosure, you will be better able to make judgments.



Roadmap: Patient’s Guide to HIPAA: Part 2: Basic Patient Rights: Right to Receive an Accounting of Disclosures (FAQ 38 of 65)

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