MRA Thought of the Day – Does Identification Suffice to Release Medical Records?

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Nilda Tamburello RHIA, Vice President of Release Of Information

A phone call is received from a patient stating that she would like a copy of her medical record, but unfortunately, she is housebound due to her health situation. She would like to know if someone else could pick up her medical record in her place. The staff informs her that to authorize a person to pick up her medical records, she must state that in writing and the person picking up the records should show an ID. However, do we really know that the patient is truly the patient authorizing this action?

We always check the ID of the person who is picking up medical records, but do we often obtain any identification from the person submitting the request if they are unable to come in person? Or do we automatically assume that the patient did authorize this request?

Here are my thoughts…

  • Always get a copy of the identification of the patient submitting the release of their medical record even if they have not come in person.
  • Verify the information on the id of the patient that it matches the information in the PHI.
  • Although it may be difficult with having an electronic medical record, verify the signature of the patient submitting the release of their PHI.
  • As always, get a copy of the person’s identification authorized to pick up the medical record.
  • File both identifications in the patient’s medical record.

This also could potentially become a case for identity fraud if the proper steps are not taken.

What are your thoughts?

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