Video: Dealing with medical identity theft in Health Information Exchanges

This video is part 5 of a 14-part WPF video series on health privacy and health information exchanges  


How can I resolve medical identity theft problems if my medical records are in an HIE?


Medical identity theft happens when another person uses your identity to acquire medical goods or services. The problem is that when this occurs, the imposter’s medical treatment gets put into your medical files. If your imposter has a different medical condition than you do, then your medical file can contain errors. It is important to correct errors in your medical file that occur as a result of medical identity theft. One of the potential challenges with exchanging your medical records in a health information exchange is that if medical identity theft happens, the erroneous file can be spread far afield through the HIE. How far? That will depend on the HIE. Some HIEs are statewide, some are local or regional. 

If you are a victim of medical identity theft, or suspect you may be one, we encourage you to read our FAQs for Medical ID Theft Victims. We also encourage you to make sure you take the extra step of finding out if your records have been exchanged in an HIE, and if so, address the issue as soon as possible. Here’s how you can start the process.

Step one is to get a copy of your health care file: request your medical file from your immediate health care provider, such as your hospital or doctor.

Step two is to request corrections to your file and to remove the errors. This may take a long time, depending on how prepared your health care provider is on dealing with medical forms of identity theft. For details on how to request corrections to your medical file, see our Patient’s Guide to HIPAA section about requesting amendments to your medical records. Also see our FAQs for Medical ID Theft Victims, which has specific tips on this issue.

Step three is to ensure that any errors that were sent out through an HIE are either removed or corrected. You will need to contact the HIE to ensure this is done. (See our video on correcting records in an HIE for more detailed information.) Not all patient files are in HIEs right now, but it is important to ask your doctor if yours are.

About correcting your medical records

Generally speaking, it is rare for any health care provider to outright delete a health file. Health providers often will keep a record for a minimum of 7 years for insurance and other purposes. That being said, some HIEs will allow you to opt-out of sharing or exchanging your files in the HIE. As part of that, you can try to make a request for record removal from the HIE itself. Some HIEs will allow this. Other HIEs will not allow an opt-out. However, if you are clear that you are a victim of medical identity theft, you may be more likely to get help with this process. 

Watch the video  (2 min. 15 sec.)

Read tips and FAQs about HIEs and your health privacy

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