Confidentiality, Privacy and Security

Inmates requesting records sent to another individual

  • 1.  Inmates requesting records sent to another individual

    Posted 22 days ago
    Hello,
    I am having trouble with the rules surrounding authorization from an inmate to release medical records to another party.  I cannot find anything in the Indiana Code specifically stating I cannot accept a release from an inmate.  The only information that I have found is if the inmate themselves want to access their PHI then the correctional facility can deny that access.  Any guidance would be appreciated.

    Thank you,
    Brooke

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    Brooke Nice
    Him Director
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  • 2.  RE: Inmates requesting records sent to another individual

    Posted 21 days ago

    Hi Brooke:

    I can't speak to Indiana law, but HIPAA does permit inmates to receive their PHI.  However, if a licensed healthcare provider feels that there is a specific safety concern, they can be denied.  Specifically.....

    A covered entity that is a correctional institution or a covered health care provider acting under the direction of the correctional institution may deny, in whole or in part, an inmate's  request to obtain a copy of protected health information, if obtaining such copy would jeopardize the health, safety, security, custody, or rehabilitation of the individual or of other inmates, or the safety of any officer, employee, or other person at the correctional institution or responsible for the transporting of the inmate.

       I am guessing that you may be working at a hospital, physician's office, ambulatory surgery center, diagnostic imaging provider or similar, so you fall under the "or a covered health care provider" part of the HIPAA section above.   Many healthcare providers are concerned about releasing records to inmates, but unless you have a specific, solid reason under the "health, safety, and security" concerns; you must disclose the records.  This would be considered a required disclosure under HIPAA, since inmates are patients too.  If you deny the request, you must specify why.

    You do need to provide paper copies, since CDs and other electronic media are considered contraband in correctional facilities.

    I hope this helps.   



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    Laurie Bach, MS, RHIA
    Health Information Management Administrator III
    New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
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  • 3.  RE: Inmates requesting records sent to another individual

    Posted 21 days ago
    Thank you Laurie,
    This does help.  I work for an acute care hospital and there has been discussion on this recently. We have not found anything in the Indiana Law that prevents disclosure other than it is permissible to deny access if the patient is incompetent.

    Brooke

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    Brooke Nice
    Him Director
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  • 4.  RE: Inmates requesting records sent to another individual

    Posted 21 days ago

    You may wish to check with your Risk Management Department to see if the HIPAA requirements to provide the PHI (a "required disclosure") overrides your State Law to not provide the PHI.  HIPAA is in favor of providing increased access to PHI, when laws conflict.  Does your state law require you to deny access in all situations?

    If there is someone is making his medical decisions (highly likely if he has been declared incompetent and requires a personal representative), that person may end up asking for the records anyways.






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    Laurie Bach, MS, RHIA
    Health Information Management Administrator III
    New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
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  • 5.  RE: Inmates requesting records sent to another individual

    Posted 21 days ago
    Hi Brooke,
    We just had a similar situation here in Michigan. The inmate's son presented a release to obtain his father's records, as he was the DPOA. The inmate has not been deemed incompetent and is able to sign for himself so we asked that he obtain a release signed by his father. We did eventually get the release signed by the inmate/father and then we released the requested records to his son. Like you, I was not sure about this situation so I called the HIM Department at one of the local state prisons and they were able to explain to me that they do still retain that right. When they are asked to release records though, they charge the inmate for the copies. I suspect it helps to ensure that the requests are truly needed/wanted, and not just something to do.

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    Kathryn Wood, RHIA
    Assist Dir of Information Systems/Privacy Officer
    War Memorial Hospital
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