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Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule require my doctor to send my medical records to the government?


No. The Rule does not require a physician or any other covered entity to send medical information to the government for a government data base or similar operation. This Rule does not require or allow any new government access to medical information, with one exception: the Rule does give the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) the authority to investigate complaints that Privacy Rule protections or rights have been violated, and otherwise to ensure that covered entities comply with the Rule.

For enforcement purposes, OCR may need to look at how a covered entity handled medical records and other personal health information, as is typical in many enforcement settings. This investigative authority is needed so that the Rule can be enforced, and to ensure the independent review of consumers’ concerns over privacy violations.

Even so, the Privacy Rule limits disclosures to OCR to information that is “pertinent to ascertaining compliance.” OCR will maintain stringent controls to safeguard any individually identifiable health information that it receives. If covered entities could avoid or ignore enforcement requests, consumers would not have a way to ensure an independent review of their concerns about privacy violations under the Rule.

Date Created: 12/20/2002
Last Update: 03/14/2006