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Guidelines for Releasing Medical Information

Release to the Public

Individuals’ medical and dental treatment records contain personal information that is protected by law as being private and privileged.
As a result, making this data public would be an unjustified invasion of one’s privacy. The Freedom of Information Act does not allow the release of such information.
Some information about patients or their next of kin (NOK) may be released by MTF Commanding Officers to the public or the press without their consent. Name, grade, date of admission or disposition, age, sex, component, base, station, or organization, and general condition make up the patient’s medical record.

Release to the Individual Concerned

The Freedom of Information Act does not apply to the release of healthcare information to the patient in question. A person’s medical record will be opened upon request unless the releasing authority believes it could be harmful to the individual’s physical or mental health. Patient consent is required before medical information can be sent to a personal physician by the releasing authority.

Release to Representatives of the Individual Concerned

Patients’ healthcare information will be released to authorized representatives only after a formal written request has been received. The NOK or legal representative must authorize the release in writing if the person is insane, mentally incompetent, or deceased. NOK or legal representatives must provide sufficient proof that the member or former member has been declared mentally incompetent or insane, or provide sufficient proof of death if such information is not on file.. A certified copy of a court order, for example, must be provided by legal representatives as proof of appointment.

Releasing Medical Information to Federal and State Agencies

When responding to legitimate requests, the releasing authority should only provide information that is listed in the Medical Treatment Records System’s “Routine Uses” section, which is published annually in SECNAV NOTE 5211, Systems of Personal Records Authorized for Maintenance Under the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552a (PL 93-579).

A legitimate need for information may arise in any of the following three scenarios:

  • A government action involving a single individual necessitates the use of health care information. As far as claims are concerned, the Veterans Administration and the Bureau of Employees’ Compensation handle them. A written authorization is required from the person concerned if an agency requests health care information for employment purposes only.
  • To properly treat a person under the department’s care, medical records are essential. (Patients and inmates at federal and state hospitals and jails may be asked about their medical or dental histories.)
  • Release to federal or state courts or other administrative bodies. The preceding limitations are not intended to prevent compliance with lawful court orders for health records in connection with civil litigation or criminal proceedings, or to prevent release of information from health records when required by law. If there are doubts about the validity of record requests, ask the Judge Advocate General (JAG) for guidance.

Releasing Medical Information for Research

Members of a facility’s employees who are working on research projects can obtain information from treatment records kept by the facility’s CO.
The identities of those engaged should be obscured to the greatest extent practicable. Others should be sent to the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) for advice.

SUMMARY

Medical and dental records will be managed by the HM. These records are essential for the delivery of healthcare. Establishing, handling, maintaining, and shutting down medical and dental records are all critical skills for the HM to master. Having up-to-date medical and dental records helps healthcare providers provide patients with timely and thorough care. The patient’s privacy and legal restrictions are respected by treating their PHI confidentially.