New Conditions of Participation for Discharge Planning for Hospitals: Access to Medical Records

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a final rule on September 30, 2019, that requires hospitals to make substantial changes to discharge planning. The final rule is effective sixty days from publication so it becomes effective on November 29, 2019.

We will present a teleconference on October 23, 2019, from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. EST to review the changes to the Conditions of Participation (CoPs) in depth. Click here for more information. It’s not too late to register or to purchase a CD!

In the meanwhile, discharge planners/case managers must comply with new requirements related to patients’ right to access their medical records, including current records, as of November 29, 2019. Specifically, patients may make either verbal or written requests for their medical records, including current records. Medical records must include all discharge planning documents.

Records must be provided in the form and format requested by patients or their representatives, if readily producible in the requested form and format, including in an electronic form or format when records are maintained electronically. If not readily available in the format requested, then a readable hard copy or another form and format agreed to by both the hospital and patients or their representatives must be provided.

Access to records must be provided in a reasonable time frame. Hospitals must not “frustrate” the legitimate efforts of individuals to gain access to their own medical records and must actively seek to meet patients’ requests as quickly as record keeping systems permit.

A key issue is how this requirement “squares” with standards established by the HIPAA Privacy Rule. CMS makes it clear that this requirement is not intended to establish a different standard for providers subject to the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently issued FAQs about access to medical records in which it clarified that the requirement to send medical records to patients and others is within thirty days or sixty days, if an extension is applicable after receiving requests. OCR went on to say, however, that “in most cases, it is expected that the use of technology will enable the covered entity to fulfill the individual’s request in far fewer than thirty days.

Stay tuned for more information about these important changes.

©2019 Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq. All rights reserved.

Southern Web SupportNew Conditions of Participation for Discharge Planning for Hospitals: Access to Medical Records
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