Who owns patient records? In N.H. only, the patients do

A common discussion in healthcare centers on the ownership of medical records. Do patients own them or are they the property of clinicians?

Many states have their own legislation regarding the ownership of medical records. Some statutes refer to the information contained in the record, and some refer to the transfer of medical information.

A project from the George Washington University's Hirsh Health Law and Policy Program and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation mapped out differing medical record ownership policies in the 50 states.

As it turns out, New Hampshire is the only state in which patients are explicitly deemed to have ownership of their medical record. Though it should be noted the law states patients own the data and information contained in the record.

Here are the states with laws deeming hospitals and/or physicians as the owners of medical records.

States where the hospital and/or physician owns the medical record

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wyoming

These states may outline ownership as the information contained in the record or as the physical conveyance for the medical information.

The rest of the states have no law identifying specific ownership or property right to medical records.

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