A release of military medical records form is necessary when a patient’s personal health information has to be shared with another medical professional or entity. Here is what you need to know about filling out this form and about when you should use it.

Your Guide To Filling Out A Release Of Medical Records Form

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Sharing medical records with other healthcare providers and other entities is sometimes necessary. However, there are certain rules to follow since a person’s medical records are considered confidential information. As a healthcare provider, you need to follow the HIPAA Privacy Rule and use a release of medical records form in this scenario.

What Is A Release Of Medical Records Form?

You can easily find online templates for these forms or even create a customized form with the name of your practice if you use document management software.

You might come across slightly different templates for these forms but can use any template as long as it includes the following sections.

State The Purpose Of The Form

There should be a brief introduction that states the purpose of the form. The title can mention that the document is a release of medical records forms or refer to a HIPAA authorization.

The introduction of the form should explain that, by signing the form, the patient is giving permission for their information to be released and used by the recipient.

Patients’ Identity

The next section should establish the patient’s identity. The patient’s date of birth should be included on the form, but you shouldn’t have to request any additional information. The purpose of this form is to identify the patient, and more details will be available in their records. Most importantly, safeguarding a client’s identity must be maintained for confidentiality.

Describe The Transfer Of Information

The form should include a sentence stating who is authorized to release the medical records and who will be the recipient. You can use your name or the name of your practice.

The name of the person or entity authorized to receive the information should be included. If necessary, add their address and contact information. All details become vital for medical records management.

Describe The Information That Is Shared

This section should describe the type of medical information that will be shared. You can check a box to indicate your consent to have all your medical records shared if your entire medical history is needed.

You will find forms that include a list of items the patient can check to indicate what kind of medical reports they authorize to be released. Some forms include a list of exceptions instead. Understanding the basics of medical record scanning comes inclusive of the whole process.

Here are a few examples of items you will find on a list of medical records to be released:

Lab results.
Prescription records.
Care plan.
Therapy notes.
Pathology report.

Here are some examples of exceptions you will find on some forms:

Mental health records.
Drug use treatment records.
HIV or AIDS status.

Both approaches are valid. You should use the template that makes the most sense for your situation. Note that both templates should include an ‘other’ section so you can indicate what kind of records you want to share or which exception you want to create.

How Long Will The Authorization Last?

The next section will indicate the period covered by the authorization. In most cases, the authorization will begin as soon as the form is filled out. Both the patient and the medical office must know how long does medical records should be kept.

Ask yourself for how long the other party will need to access and use the records. You can always fill out the second form in the future to renew the authorization if needed. Don’t extend the authorization for any longer than the other person or entity needs to access and use the medical records.

How Will The Information Be Used?

The form should include a sentence that defines how the recipient is allowed to access and use the medical records. You can read the HIPAA Privacy Rules for a more comprehensive overview of what healthcare providers and other professionals are allowed to do with medical records.

Revoking The Authorization

The next section on the form states that the patient understands they can revoke the authorization. Once the form has been filled out and sent, you can write a letter to the person or entity who received your medical records and revoke your authorization.

They will have to stop using the records immediately, but keep in mind that you might not be able to get them to reverse any actions or decisions they took upon receiving your records.

Understanding There Are No Obligations To Fill Out The Form

You will find a short sentence that states the patient understands they are not obligated to fill out and sign the form to receive treatment. As a patient, you are in control of your personal information and can refuse to fill out the form.

You can also object to having a certain portion of your medical records shared with a person or entity and issue a limited authorization, even if a professional recommends that you release your entire medical records.

Understanding Limitations

The next sentence explains that the recipient might share the records with another person or entity who isn’t legally obligated to follow the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

Signature And Date

The last section of the form includes fields where the patient or their legal representation can sign and date the form.

When To Use A Release Of Medical Records Form

This form is usually completed when a patient, employer, insurer, legal representative, or another healthcare provider needs access to medical records. The person who currently holds the electronic medical records has to follow the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which defines in which circumstances they are allowed to release the records.

Healthcare providers, health insurance providers, and health care clearinghouses have to follow this rule. The rule also extends to the business associates of these entities, which includes billing services, claims processing services, software vendors, and more.

It is important that healthcare providers keep the completed forms for their records. A HIPAA Authorization form filled out by a patient is a proof that the person or entity who released the personal information was compliant.

The HIPAA Privacy Rules states that professionals and entities who have access to personal medical information should avoid sharing data that isn’t needed. For instance, these release forms are often used in cases where an employer needs information to process a worker’s compensation case.

The health care provider who treated the injured patient only needs to release the information linked to the incident and not the patient’s entire medical history. The duration of the authorization should be limited to a few months so the claim can be processed, but there are no reasons to grant a longer authorization.

It is also important to make sure the patient understands the implications of the form. They should understand that they have no obligations to sign the form and agree to have their records released. They can decide which records are released and how long the authorization will last.

Patients should be aware that they can request a copy of their medical records at any time and have incorrect information changed. They should also know that they can revoke the authorization to access and use the records in writing.

When Is The Release Of Medical Records Form Not Needed?

A patient can ask for their medical records without having to fill out a form. However, some healthcare providers use release forms for their records.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule allows medical professionals to share personal information for internal use. For instance, a doctor can release a patient’s information to their billing department.

Healthcare providers are allowed to share medical records with other professionals who have an ongoing relationship with the patient. From an ethical point of view, the patient should be informed that the records are being shared.

For instance, a practice will share personal records with the health insurance provider of the patient without having the patient filling out an authorization form. However, a hospital sending an unpaid bill to a collection agency can’t disclose the nature of the treatments since the patient had no ongoing relationship with the collection agency.

Note that the HIPAA Privacy Rule protects information that is personal. If a record has no data that can identify a patient, then the information is not protected under this rule. Medical information is often shared in the context of research without any details that can be used to identify a patient.

Medical professionals are obligated to release medical records without obtaining an authorization from the patient first if there is a court order or a warrant. This being said, the office must ensure the medical records software optimization for 2018.

There are other situations where it is possible to release medical records without getting an authorization form filled out:

  • Releasing the information can prevent a dangerous disease from spreading
  • Abuse, neglect, or domestic violence is suspected 
  • A crime is suspected
  • There is a need to communicate with a funeral home or the coroner's office
  • The data could help improve the safety and quality of an FDA- regulated product, such as a prescription.
  • Records are needed for organ donations  

If the patient is not conscious or is unable to fill out the form, the health care provider usually has to make an ethical decision and share the information that will help the patient get access to the treatment they need at the moment.

Whether you are a patient or a medical professional, it is important to understand in which circumstances an authorization form needs to be filled out. You should also keep in mind that patients aren’t obligated to release their records and have full control over how the information is shared.

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