Myths about HIPAA and Medical Records 

Updated on January 13, 2020

IN 1996 the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA) was proposed during the tenure of President Bill Clinton. The original aim of the bill was to ensure that employees who decided to change job maintained the health insurance during the move. As the legislation evolved over time amendments and new rules were introduced to the ever-changing technological advances in computing and digital technology into account.

There are some common misconceptions held by the public in relation to this legislation. 

Myth 1: HIPAA Does not Permit Sharing of Information with Family Members

This is false. The HIPAA laws are in depth and confusing. As it is a complex issue the majority of members simply rule out doing this. However, with specific permissions from you, in writing, records can be shared with anyone you wish.

Myth 2: Copies of Health Records are only available to Patients or Caregivers 

This is not the case and there are many other individuals and organizations that can obtain a patient’s medical records without a patient’s permission, some legally and some illegally.

Myth 3: Employers Are Payers and Can Gain Access to an Employee’s Record

Most of the time HIPAA prohibits employers from obtaining a patient’s records, regardless of the fact that they are paying for medical treatment. This applies whether the employer participates in an outside insurance plan, or is self-insured, you can read more about it at

Myth 4: HIPAA Laws Forbid Doctors from Sending Emails to their Patients

Your Doctor may use HIPAA as an excuse not to send emails, but HIPAA does not prohibit the use of email between doctors and patients. HIPAA requires only that health information is always secured. If they can guarantee safety, they can send an email.

Myth 5: Providers Legally Obliged to provide all Medical Records to You

Should you request records that the provider or facility deems may be harmful to you, they may deny you access. They cannot be withheld just because the provider is of the opinion that they will be unsettling for you.

Myth 6: You can submit a legal action to get your record should they be withheld from you

There are courses of action for patients who are denied copies of their medical records, but a legal action is not one of them. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has a process in place for patients to follow if they believe their rights have been breached under HIPAA legislation. It includes submitting a formal complaint through a website.

Myth 7: HIPAA Laws Incorporate Privacy and Security for all Medical Records

This is only true in certain circumstances. Healthcare suppliers, healthcare facilities, and sometimes insurers are the only entities bound by HIPAA laws. However, there are many others who may have that data, and they are not obligated or governed by HIPAA. 

Myth 8: Providers must change all errors discovered in patient records

While you can request changes to your records this does not mean they will get corrected. If your provider will not make the changes, you may write a dispute letter about the mistakes you have found. 

Myth 9: Your Health and Medical Records Cn have no impacts on your Credit Records

This is false. Service providers are entitled to be paid. They are allowed to do whatever is legal under bill collecting statutes to collect that debt, including handing your files over to a collection agency.

Myth 10: Medical History may not be Legally Sold or Used for Marketing

Another falsehood here. Depending on how that information will be shared, and to whom, and of course, these rules are also hard for providers to understand. That means these rights may get breached, whether that is intentional or unintentional.

Myth 11: HIPAA is a convenient Excuse

Mostly, patients and caregivers may witness HIPAA being used to either stop them to adhere/conform to someone else’s rules, even when they are not applicable.

Throughout the year, our writers feature fresh, in-depth, and relevant information for our audience of 40,000+ healthcare leaders and professionals. As a healthcare business publication, we cover and cherish our relationship with the entire health care industry including administrators, nurses, physicians, physical therapists, pharmacists, and more. We cover a broad spectrum from hospitals to medical offices to outpatient services to eye surgery centers to university settings. We focus on rehabilitation, nursing homes, home care, hospice as well as men’s health, women’s heath, and pediatrics.