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Phillips Esq.
Phillips Esq., Attorney-at-Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 17535
Experience:  B.A.; M.B.A.; J.D.
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I am in Colorado. After my husband and I spent one year with

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I am in Colorado. After my husband and I spent one year with a licensed clinical social worker for couples counseling, we terminated our contact with her as we both thought our time with her had not been helpful. I would like to obtain a copy of all documentation of our time with her. Our state law indicates that the patient record shall be made available to the patient/client with a written request and that a copy of such records shall also be made available with written request and payment of reasonable costs. This applies to all records except records pertaining to mental health problems. The phrase "mental health problems" has been defined to mean psychiatric or psychological problems. The phrase does not include general professional counseling that addresses life skill building, decision making, and problem solving that is unrelated to psychiatric or psychological problems. So records relating to these matters are available to the patient/client. It is my opinion that couples counseling falls into the later category. Neither of use has a psychiatric or psychological problem. So within the state law I should be able to get a copy of our records. -- As I have been trying to find information about HIPAA as it relates to release of information of such records, I have not been able to find anything that seems very clear to me. I find that the provider is required to release my information to me with a written request but it is a little vague as to whether this is both medical and mental health records. I have found some information about my being able to give permission to release my mental health information to a third party, but not information about requesting it for myself. I have found some limited information about psychotherapy notes being excluded from release to a third party unless I give my permission. But again nothing about my being able to request this information for myself. There seems to be some information that states mental health information can be withheld at the decision of the provider if it is thought that it would be harmful for the client to have such information. I do not think I am in that category. --- I would appreciate your sharing the most current interpretation of the law (HIPAA) as to what I have the right to have access to and a copy of as it relates to the time my husband and I spent in couples counseling. Thank you for your time.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Phillips Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to assist you. I encourage you to ask me for clarification, if you are not clear with my Answer.

HIPAA privacy Rules only apply in case of release of your medical information to a third party. It does not apply when you are requesting a copy of your own medical records. So, if you request for the information, the provider must provide it to you unless in the provider's judgment the release of the information to you would be harmful to you or the public. I do not see the case here. Also, the provider may charge you for reasonable costs of providing the information to you. For a Summary of HIPPA, click on the links below:

http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/consumers/consumer_rights.pdf

http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/summary/index.html

http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/consumers/index.html

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