HHS Says You Should Know Who's Been Looking at Your Electronic Health Records

(CNSNews.com) – The Department of Health and Human Services says patients should have the right to see who has accessed their electronic health records.

On Tuesday, HHS’ Office for Civil Rights announced it has proposed changes to the HIPAA privacy rule that would allow people to receive a report on who has seen their protected health information.

The proposed regulation, intended to “foster transparency and patient trust, as well as to discourage inappropriate behavior,” is now available for public comment.

“This proposed rule represents an important step in our continued efforts to promote accountability across the health care system, ensuring that providers properly safeguard private health information,” said Office of Civil Rights Director Georgina Verdugo. “We need to protect peoples’ rights so that they know how their health information has been used or disclosed.”

Under the proposed rule, people would be able to request an “access report,” which would name the particular persons who viewed their electronic health records. That includes access for purposes of medical treatment and billing. While an access report would allow patients to learn if specific persons have accessed their electronic health records, it would not explain the purpose of that access.

Patients also would have the right to a fuller accounting, which would provide additional information about the disclosure of their health records to law enforcement, judicial hearings, and public health investigations, for example.

HHS is accepting comments on the proposed rule through August 1, 2011.

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