When there is a belief that the patients’ medical records will be used for purposes outside of medical care, the patient must receive a notice that informs them about how their health information will be utilized and shared with other entitles (US Department of Health and Human Services). In addition to receiving this notice, the patient is able to determine if they are willing to allow their information to be used for purposes other than medical or insurance care.
Health information might be used for several purposes other than health care. These include family directories, public health activities such as victims of abuse or domestic violence, or in regards to oversight activities carried out by public health agencies (US Department of Health and Human Services). Additional purposes include access by law enforcement agencies, individuals who require access to the patient’s body after their death, including coroners and medical examiners, as well as individuals that are involved in the harvesting of the patient’s organs (US Department of Health and Human Services).
Several other uses include medical research and worker’s compensation claims. When the information is being used for research or public health statistics, much of the identifying information will be removed from the file before it is received by the other agency (US Department of Health and Human Services). This is done to provide a limited amount of privacy for the patient. It is important that these organizations or agencies have the ability to access a patient’s medical information if there is just cause for them to have access. However, there are restrictions in place to prevent individuals or organizations with no justifiable cause from accessing those records.