What patient rights are recognized by entities covered by HIPAA concerning their personal data?

by | Apr 6, 2023 | HIPAA News and Advice

Entities covered by HIPAA recognize the patient’s right to access their own medical records, request corrections to those records, receive an accounting of disclosures of their PHI, determine who can receive their health information, request restrictions on certain uses or disclosures of their information, and be informed about how their health information is used and shared by healthcare providers and health plans. These rights are important to maintaining the ethical and legal standards within the healthcare ecosystem. The role of healthcare professionals and institutions is to ensure that these patient rights are respected and supported.

Patient RightsDescription
Access to Medical RecordsPatients can request and receive copies of their medical records.
Helps patients stay informed about their health history and treatments.
Request for CorrectionsPatients can request corrections to their medical records if inaccuracies are identified.
Healthcare providers review and update records as needed.
Accounting of DisclosuresPatients have the right to know who received their protected health information (PHI) and why.
Provides transparency in data-sharing practices.
Control Over PHI SharingPatients can authorize who can access their health information.
Consent is required for external sharing, except for important healthcare operations.
Request for RestrictionsPatients can request limits on the use or disclosure of their PHI.
Providers consider and discuss these requests, aiming to accommodate them if possible.
Information TransparencyCovered entities must inform patients about privacy practices and data-sharing policies.
Patients have a right to understand how their PHI is used.
Data Breach NotificationHealthcare organizations must promptly notify patients of PHI breaches.
Allows patients to mitigate potential harm from compromised data.
Confidential CommunicationsPatients can request confidential communication methods for health information.
Vital for sensitive medical conditions or privacy concerns.
Complaint FilingPatients can file complaints for HIPAA violations or dissatisfaction.
Complaints submitted to providers, health plans, or HHS.
Table: Patient Rights Upheld by HIPAA-Covered Entities

Under HIPAA, patients have the right to access their medical records. This empowers patients to be well-informed about their health status, treatment plans, and historical health data. Healthcare entities covered by HIPAA are obligated to provide patients with timely access to their medical records upon request. This access facilitates patients’ engagement in their own healthcare decisions and encourages transparency between healthcare providers and patients. Patients also have the right to request corrections to their medical records if they identify inaccuracies or incomplete information. Healthcare providers and institutions must acknowledge and act upon such requests promptly. This right aligns with the importance of maintaining accurate and up-to-date health information to ensure proper clinical decision-making and effective healthcare delivery.

HIPAA recognizes patients’ right to receive an accounting of disclosures of their PHI. This pertains to the tracking of instances where their PHI has been shared with third parties for purposes other than treatment, payment, or healthcare operations. Providing patients with this information enhances transparency in data-sharing practices and boosts trust between patients and healthcare entities. Patients have the authority to determine who can receive their health information. Healthcare providers and plans covered by HIPAA must obtain explicit authorization from patients before disclosing their PHI to external entities, except for situations where sharing is necessary for treatment, payment, or healthcare operations. This control over information sharing safeguards patient privacy and gives individuals the autonomy to make informed choices about their data.

HIPAA acknowledges patients’ right to request restrictions on certain uses or disclosures of their PHI. While healthcare providers may not always be able to accommodate these requests, they are required to consider and discuss them with patients. This dialogue supports shared decision-making between patients and healthcare professionals and ensures that patient preferences are considered to the extent feasible and permissible by law. Entities covered by HIPAA are required to inform patients about how their health information is used and shared. This includes providing patients with clear and comprehensible explanations of privacy practices, data-sharing protocols, and their rights concerning their PHI. This transparency maintains patient trust and helps them feel more secure about the management of their sensitive health data.

In case of a data breach that compromises the security of patients’ PHI, HIPAA requires covered entities to notify affected individuals. This prompt notification enables patients to take necessary steps to protect themselves from potential identity theft or other adverse consequences. Additionally, healthcare organizations are obligated to report large-scale breaches to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), enhancing overall accountability and data security in the healthcare sector. Patients have the right to request that their health information be communicated to them in a certain manner or at a specific location to ensure confidentiality. This is particularly important when patients fear that their privacy could be compromised, such as in situations involving domestic violence or sensitive medical conditions. Healthcare providers are required to accommodate reasonable requests for confidential communication, further exemplifying respect for patient autonomy and privacy.

HIPAA empowers patients to file complaints if they believe their rights have been violated or if they are dissatisfied with how their health information is being handled. Patients can file complaints directly with their healthcare providers or health plans, or they can report HIPAA violations to the HHS Office for Civil Rights. This mechanism encourages accountability within the healthcare system and prompts corrective action when necessary.


The patient rights recognized by entities covered by HIPAA reflect the principles of patient autonomy, privacy, and transparency. Healthcare professionals and institutions have a responsibility to uphold and honor these rights in their interactions with patients and the management of health information. Adhering to these rights not only ensures compliance with legal regulations but also maintains trust, respect, and ethical healthcare practices.

HIPAA Covered Entity Topics

What is the definition of a HIPAA-covered entity?
How does an organization determine if it is a HIPAA-covered entity?
Are all healthcare providers considered HIPAA-covered entities?
What obligations does an entity covered by HIPAA have concerning patient data?
Do insurance companies fall under the category of entities covered by HIPAA?
What is a covered entity under HIPAA?
Who would not be considered a covered entity under HIPAA?
Is an employer a covered entity under HIPAA?
Who should HIPAA complaints be directed to within the covered entity?
What are the penalties for a HIPAA-covered entity that breaches patient confidentiality?
Are health technology companies automatically considered HIPAA-covered entities?
What distinguishes a HIPAA entity from non-covered entities?
Can a HIPAA-covered entity share medical records with another such entity without patient consent?
How often should HIPAA-covered entities review their compliance procedures?
What types of training must employees of an entity covered by HIPAA undergo?
How do entities covered by HIPAA handle data breaches?
What is the role of a privacy officer in a HIPAA-covered entity?
Are dental practices considered HIPAA-covered entities?
Can a patient sue a HIPAA-covered entity for a data breach?
How are HIPAA-covered entities audited for compliance?
What are the reporting obligations of a HIPAA entity in case of data exposure?
How do third-party vendors interact with HIPAA-covered entities?
Can a business associate be considered a HIPAA-covered entity?
How should a HIPAA entity respond to unauthorized access to protected health information?
What security measures must entities covered by HIPAA implement?
Are there exemptions for certain types of entities covered by HIPAA?
How long must a HIPAA-covered entity retain medical records?
What patient rights are recognized by entities covered by HIPAA concerning their personal data?
Are telemedicine platforms typically classified as HIPAA-covered entities?
What distinguishes business associates from HIPAA-covered entities?
How can patients file complaints against a HIPAA entity?
What is the significance of the Notice of Privacy Practices for a HIPAA-covered entity?
How do international medical tourism practices intersect with HIPAA-covered entities?
Are there specific encryption standards that a HIPAA-covered entity must adhere to?
How do federal and state laws regarding patient privacy relate to HIPAA-covered entities?
How do HIPAA-covered entities handle minor patient information?
Are pharmacies and drug stores universally categorized as HIPAA-covered entities?
How can a HIPAA-covered entity ensure compliance when integrating new technologies?
What are the key differences between a HIPAA-covered entity and a HIPAA business associate?
Are research institutions always considered HIPAA-covered entities?
What are the boundaries of marketing activities for an entity covered by HIPAA?
Can cloud service providers be classified as HIPAA-covered entities?
How should a HIPAA entity prepare for an official audit or review?
What documentation is essential for a HIPAA-covered entity’s compliance processes?
How often do regulations impacting HIPAA-covered entities get updated?
Do educational institutions fall under the scope of entities covered by HIPAA?
How do mobile health apps and digital health tools intersect with HIPAA-covered entities?
What is the role of electronic health record systems in a HIPAA-covered entity?
How does the Health Information Exchange (HIE) network impact HIPAA-covered entities?
Are mental health professionals bound by the same rules as other HIPAA-covered entities?
How do mergers and acquisitions impact the status of a HIPAA-covered entity?
Can patients access all their health data held by a HIPAA-covered entity?
Are billing and invoicing data handled differently by entities covered by HIPAA than medical data?
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