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What Is HIPAA? What Should Sports Med Patients Know?

Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.

In going through your patient paperwork, whether at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine and Orthopedics or elsewhere, you may have come across HIPAA (pronounced hip-ah). HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a federal law passed in 1996 to help consumers maintain insurance coverage and have the confidentiality and security of their health care information protected.

In the context of your visit here at Houston Institute for Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, HIPAA extends to you the following privacy and security rights.

#1 Right to receive a notice of privacy practices.

If you want to know how your health care provider or insurance provider plans to use your health information, you have the right to receive a notice.

#2 Right to access and request a copy of medical records.

You have the right to inspect and obtain copies of your health information. To do this, ask your health care provider for a copy of the Notice of Privacy Practices, which should have instructions for requesting records and filing complaints.

#3 Right to request an amendment to medical records.

If you find information on your medical record that you believe is inadequate, you have the right to request a correction.

#4 Right to request special privacy protection for PHI.

You have the right to ask your doctor not to report certain private health information, though the request may be denied.

#5 Right to accounting of disclosures.

You have a right to know what information about your health has been disclosed and to whom. This accounting can cover up to six years prior to the request.

#6 Right to access a minor child’s medical records.

As a parent acting as a child’s “personal representative,” you have the right to disclosure of the minor’s medical records.

HIPAA In Sports Medicine

HIPAA in sports medicine faces a few unique challenges, as discussed in this research article. For example, sports medicine physicians who care for professional athletes as team physicians may be required to disclose an athlete’s health information to the sports club, as it is considered part of an employment record and is not considered “protected health information” (PHI). However, if the sports medicine doctor is treating a patient as a personal physician (not employed by the sports club) or in their own private office, then that information is considered PHI, and HIPAA regulations apply.

If you have specific questions about how HIPAA affects the relationship between you and your provider (and sports club, if applicable), you have the right to ask your physician’s office for information.

Contact Houston Institute for Sports Medicine & Orthopedics

To schedule your appointment with a Houston sports med doc, call us today at (713) 756-5546. You can also schedule your next appointment online.

Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines. This blog post does not contain legal advice. Any errors are unintentional. Consult your physician or the appropriate governing institution for full HIPAA details.