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I was at a doctor’s office, and in all of those forms was something that said something along the lines of I authorize the doctor to discus my medical status as his patient with government agencies. However, I know that I would generally need to authorize such a release of my medical records. Does this actually void such rights?

When I go to http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-individuals/notice-privacy-practices/ , it explains that

Signing [a doctor's privacy policy] does not mean that you have agreed to any special uses or disclosures (sharing) of your health records.

However, this wasn't a privacy policy. It was on the same page as other legal clauses about arbitration in the event of a dispute, etc...

I suppose this is a two-part question:

1) Does "medical status" include past diagnoses that are no longer being treated by the doctor? (Eg. suppose someone has arthritis but is no longer treated for it by the doctor. Is this medical history part of their "medical status"?)

2) Does signing such a release actually allow the doctor to release such records without additional consent?

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HIPAA privacy regulations do not rely on the term "status", but it is used as an ordinary-language way of talking about a person's condition. A full medical record is pretty detailed, and the restrictions on disclosure are not just on records. A doctor can't tell a friend health-status thing like "He has 2 months to live" or "He broke his arm", without the consent of the covered entity (a.k.a. patient). The two main elements that go into a doctor talking about a patient are patient consent and relevance (subsection (b) here). It could be relevant to discuss payment options with adult family members, but not with children or the taxi driver. There should be more detailed information to go with the form you signed which would explain why they would ever talk to a government agency, though often you get a sheaf of paper and corresponding prompts on a signature pad.

  • So in other words the doctor cannot go freely speaking to a government agency about his patients (hypothetically) just because that release was signed, unless he possesses a valid reason to? – User093203920 Nov 22 '16 at 21:52
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    As I understand it, that's correct. The release isn't supposed to be open-ended permission to gossip. There's a 3-way distinction 'consent irrelevant', 'opportunity to object', 'consent required'. They all have an element of "why would that be any of your business?" to is, so they may reveal that you have Ebola to public health workers, but not to a curious police officer. – user6726 Nov 22 '16 at 22:27
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The clause does not say what you think it does. Your status is either "current patient" or "former patient".

  • I really doubt that is what is meant by "medical status." – Andy Feb 9 '17 at 22:17

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